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by Rodney Dunigan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Could the high levels of radon detected at one area middle school be the cause behind the serious health issues of numerous employees? Some believe the cancer connection at Two Rivers Middle School certainly can't be dismissed.
NewsChannel 5 spoke with a number of employees who said in the past few years at least six workers have battled thyroid cancer.
They realize that radon is most closely associated with lung cancer, but they stress that you can not ignore the fact that so many have fallen seriously ill. And they all only share one connection, all are long time workers at Two Rivers Middle School.
For nearly two years, Tanya Wilburn has been in the fight of her life. Since her diagnosis of thyroid cancer in 2009 she's not only been battling a deadly disease, but continues to wonder how and why.
"We were just like ‘hey, you know maybe it's something in the building.' It just seems kind of odd," Wilburn told NewsChannel 5.
Wilburn, a long time secretary at Two Rivers Middle isn't the only one with those questions. Staff at the school told NewsChannel 5 in recent years a number of workers here have developed the same illness.
Two Rivers was one of the Metro schools highlighted in a NewsChannel 5 investigation detailing high levels of radon detected in class rooms and offices. In some estimates, the radioactive gas is said to be the second leading cause of lung cancer. Elevated Levels Of Radon Found In Some Metro Schools
"It's been sprung on us, so now we're really concerned about our teachers who've been here an extended amount of time. I'm confident that our district will do as much as they can to ensure that the students and the teachers in this building are safe," said assistant principal Chara Hess.
PTA president Kelly Cooper has a 7th grader at the school now, along with five other children who've graduated from Two Rivers. She admits the reports of cancer are certainly alarming.
"I believe more testing needs to be done. They came in during our spring break and tested and until we get those results back and sure we'll have a lot of worries about it. People are on edge and wondering what the levels will be now," Cooper told NewsChannel 5.
Wilburn can't say for a fact that her cancer was caused from years of work at Two Rivers, but believes it's certainly worth investigation.
"I certainly want to check into it and have the right measures followed to ensure there is no sort of link in it," Wilburn told NewsChannel 5.
The Metro school district did release a statement to NewsChannel 5 Friday afternoon saying, in part, that they've been told by health officials there is no immediate concern inside of the schools tested.
Students were also sent home from school Friday with letters explaining the testing process and the school status.
The district is working with the health department to schedule yet another testing date. Depending on those test results the district may take action, including finding a way to increase air circulation in those schools. The plan will have to follow EPA guidelines for reducing radon levels.
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