Albion teachers ask district to probe whether cancer cases are tied to school


Albion, N.Y. — Teachers in Albion are asking the district to investigate any connections between an elementary school building there and cancer cases in staff members.

The Albion Teachers Association compiled a list of cases after a teacher at Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. The association found 22 teachers or staff members linked to the original school building who have been diagnosed with breast cancer over the last 20 years, according to WGRZ in Buffalo.

The original building dates to the 1950s. Albion is located in Orleans County about 10 miles from the Lake Ontario shoreline between Rochester and Buffalo.

Teachers want outside experts to examine the issue and Albion Superintendent Michael Bonnewell plans to comply, WGRZ said. He is seeking help from the Orleans County Health Department, the New York State Department of Health and a workplace health and safety program at Cornell University.

Bonnewell also said he doesn’t want to alarm parents, students or teachers and said the district’s medical director found the number of breast cancer cases involved is lower than the national average, according to WGRZ.

Experts will examine the individual cases involved, the timeframe, their histories, where people involved live and how long they worked at the school, said Christy Widman, assistant director in the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement at Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, according to WGRZ.

Teachers also want a review of air, water quality and environmental factors at the building.

Widman noted that there is not much firm evidence connecting environmental exposure and breast cancer, according to WGRZ.

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