FLORISSANT, Mo. (NewsNation) — Students at a suburban St. Louis elementary school will switch to remote learning following a report of radioactive contamination at the school.
The Hazelwood School District announced Tuesday night that Jana Elementary School will close, and students will switch to virtual learning starting Oct. 24 through the remainder of the semester, NewsNation affiliate KTVI reported.
Radioactive waste in a creek that meanders through part of the school has long been suspected of causing rare cancers and other health problems for residents who live nearby. Now, new studies suggest Coldwater Creek also has caused contamination around — and perhaps inside — the grade school.
The Hazelwood School Board met in a closed session Tuesday night to discuss what should be done next.
Contamination was found in classrooms and the library, in the HVAC system and on the playground and nearby fields, according to a report from Boston Chemical Data Corp. The study completed earlier this month was performed on behalf of law firms involved in a class-action lawsuit — one of many seeking compensation for those who blame illness or death on living near the creek.
The Boston Chemical study cited levels of the radioactive isotope lead-210 that were 22 times the expected level on the kindergarten playground. It also found high levels of polonium, radium and other material in various places throughout the school.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says high levels of radiation can increase the risk of cancer, while high levels of lead can impact a child’s development and attention span.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KTVI in St. Louis contributed to this report.