COLONIA, N.J. (PIX11) — There are renewed concerns about a high school in New Jersey that some have alleged is connected to several cases of brain tumors.
A mother claimed on Wednesday that she discovered evidence indicating the presence of harmful substances on school grounds, months after state and municipal authorities declared Colonia High School safe. The findings may result in additional testing.
Mom Edyta Komorek, along with many other parents, grew weary of allegations made earlier this year that the school was linked to an apparent brain cancer cluster affecting more than 120 former students.
“They weren’t doing enough. I thought the initial testing was very limited,” said Komorek. “I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a mistake.”
The results of subsequent local and state radon investigations on school grounds were negative. Officials deemed the school safe.
“I think it was wrong of whoever started calling this a cancer cluster,” said the New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Shawn Latourette.
With 16 years of experience as an environmental scientist, Komorek decided to take matters into her own hands.
“The reluctance of the state to act basically forced me to collect my own samples,” Komorek explained.
A couple of weeks ago, she collected dust, soil and caulk samples from the school and sent them to a state-certified lab. All the samples revealed traces of PCBs, chlordane, heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide — all carcinogenic compounds linked to cancer and other diseases.
Komorek pulled her children out of the school this week, saying, “The way I see it, we need to immediately collect air samples inside the school.”
The school district has received her report and informed the parents about the findings. State officials and environmental consultants have also been informed.
John McCormac, the mayor of Woodbridge, has urged parents not to worry, pointing out that PCBs were a typical chemical found in building supplies, a practice that was stopped in 1979.
“If I thought for a second that this building was not safe … I would take action immediately,” McCormac said.
To ease parents’ concerns, the mayor said a new round of testing is on the horizon.
“We are going to do the right thing like we did last time. We are going to probably do more testing and see what develops, but right now, there’s nothing to worry about,” McCormac said.
It’s still unknown when this second round of testing will begin. But, town authorities anticipate hearing from the state about the new findings by early next week.