Newslines— Parents want school to test for possible carcinogens

Parents are calling for Tippecanoe School Corp. officials to look for possible cancer-causing agents at Klondike Elementary School in West Lafayette, Ind.

Six students and 11 staff members at Klondike have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer since 1985, raising concerns at the 1,000-student school.

However, Superintendent Richard Wood said July 12 that there is no evidence to suggest the cases are related or that the illnesses were contracted from drinking the water at the school. An analysis in June of Klondike’s drinking water for the presence of lead and copper revealed nothing abnormal.

Requests for more on-site water testing arose after Terri Yancey’s 11-year-old daughter, a student at Klondike, was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in April.

“It’s either a big fluke or something’s wrong,” Yancey said. “I’m not trying to blame what happened to my daughter on the school, but they need to do some kind of health evaluation.”

School physician Steven Lipp said extensive testing of Klondike water is being considered for next year, when the city’s private water utility, United Water Co., conducts its annual sampling.

Lipp said he’s consulted with pediatric cancer specialists at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis about the reported cases involving a brain tumor and liver and ovarian cancer. He said there is no reason to suspect they are linked to conditions at the school.

“The bottom line with any childhood cancer is that we don’t know the cause,” Lipp said. “I’ve been given no reasons [why] there’s a problem, but we’re responding to parents’ concerns.”

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