Health Department Looking Into Cancer Rates In LI School District

Sophia Hall
January 22, 2020 - 3:54 pm
Northport Middle School

Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

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NORTHPORT, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — The state Department of Health plans to investigate cancer rates at a Long Island school district, where one school was recently shuttered after students and staff became sick.

Parents had been voicing concerns about smells coming from inside the Northport Middle School for years and the school recently found an increase in mercury levels due to a nearby cesspool.

The school was closed when a number of children fell ill this year, but parents have said there have been illnesses every year, even cancer.

The Health Department now wants to probe “cancer occurrence” in the Northport-East Northport school district, after a number of students from a recent graduating class were diagnosed.

Health Department Deputy Commissioner Brad Hutton tells WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall there was especially an unusually high occurrence of leukemia and lymphoma in students who graduated from Northport High School in 2016.

“We calculate the numbers of cancers that we would expect to occur, based on standard rates in a given location, and then we compare that to the numbers that actually were reported,” he said.

Hutton says the study will look at different types of cancers, different age groups and “most importantly, we’re going to look across different diagnosis years.”

WCBS 880’s Hall has been following the story for months, and noted that in the beginning of the school year, parents wanted to hold a “sick-out” because students were becoming ill from what they believe were chemicals and vapors at the school.

The school district says they will fully cooperate with the study, which is expected to last between 12 and 18 months.