Erin Brockovich Probes Teen Illness Mystery

Investigates possible ties between teens in Le Roy, NY, and chemical spill
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2012 5:49 AM CST

A handful of teens at a New York state high school are suffering from a mysterious illness—and Erin Brockovich is on the case. Some 15 Le Roy teens, mostly girls, have displayed facial and verbal tics, including sudden outbursts, USA Today reports; the environmental activist is investigating a possible link to a 1970 chemical spill in the area. That year, a derailed train dropped a ton of cyanide and 35,000 gallons of industrial chemical trichloroethene.

Though the cyanide crystals were retrieved, the trichloroethene seeped into the earth, a 1999 EPA report says. "When I read reports like this that the New York Department of Health and state agencies were well-aware of the spill and you don't do water testing or vapor extraction tests, you don't have an all-clear," Brockovich says. The school district says that investigations haven't turned up evidence to suggest the symptoms are tied to "anything in the environment or of an infectious nature." (Read more Erin Brockovich stories.)

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