"I don't like going places; I don't like when people stare at me,” said Traci Leubner, back in January.
She was suffering from unexplained twitches and verbal outbursts similar to Tourette's syndrome. These symptoms were present in twelve to eighteen people, mostly students at LeRoy Junior/Senior High School, and a 36-year-old woman in the area. It brought national attention to the town of LeRoy and put the school under the microscope.
In a letter addressed to the community Wednesday, Kim Cox, LeRoy Superintendent of Schools, revealed the findings from extensive testing of the air, soil, and water on the school's property.
The testing agency, Leader Professional Services out of Pittsford, compiled about 6,000 pages of data. Leader said it found nothing that would cause adverse health effects; no detectable levels of TCE, MTBE, formaldehyde. or mercury.
The exact cause of the symptoms has never been determined, but rather morphed into a commonly accepted theory of conversion disorder, or mass hysteria.
Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo treated and diagnosed 11 patients from LeRoy High School explained conversion disorder as a physical manifestation of psychological symptoms brought on by stress. No uncommon in small groups of women in small towns.
“They kind of just told us what was wrong, gave us medicine and poof, it was gone. No one talked about it,” said Traci.
Once Traci, a senior this year, was treated medically, her symptoms began to dissipate.
The mystery only continues as Leader has found nothing to explain the symptoms that caused her fear and anxiety for months.
“It's freaky, because they didn't find anything. There wasn't like a, this is what happened. It was kind of mysterious.”
Jim DuPont, whose daughters also suffered from this apparent conversion disorder, says his business has been hurt by the media coverage brought on by this mysterious illness. He declined to comment on camera but did say "I'm not surprised. They paid for their own tests."
Cox feels Leader conducted an extensive sampling and testing report and is looking forward to maintaining "a sense of calm and normalcy."
For the patients and parents who have been waiting for answers, this report leaves them with an even bigger question mark.
“I've just moved on and tried to forget about it because it was very unsettling, but I’m fine now,” Traci said.
Leader Professional Services’ testing, which began in February, cost the district between $70,000 and $75,000. Cox said in her letter that the state has committed to covering the stack project and 92% of leader’s costs. They are hoping other incidental costs will be covered by the state as well.
I have excellent news to announce concerning the results of the air, soil and surface water testing of the Junior/Senior High School building and grounds by Leader Professional Services. Leader has compiled an extensive report concerning the testing undertaken and subsequent analysis, concluding there are no adverse health impacts from contaminants in the air, soil or water in or around our high school campus.
First, I want to thank Leader for its very thorough and extensive sampling and testing and its associated report (referred to as the “Final Report”). The Final Report represents a tremendous volume of work which included not only the comprehensive sampling and analysis, but before the Final Report could be finalized and published, such sample results were subjected to a rigorous and painstaking quality assurance review process to ensure accuracy. The Final Report, including its appendices, provides a detailed explanation and analysis of the sampling results. To appreciate the depth of analysis performed by Leader, the underlying data alone that was compiled and analyzed encompasses almost six thousand pages. The Final Report can be found through the link below. The Final Report will also be available in the District’s main office and the local public library.
To summarize the key findings:
• Some in our community have been concerned about such chemicals as trichloroethylene (TCE) and methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE) may be present on the campus and causing adverse health impacts. I am very pleased to tell you that the testing results do not show any detectable levels of trichloroethylene, methyl t-butyl ether, formaldehyde, or mercury.
• The air sampling revealed only compounds expected to be found in multi-purpose educational buildings, like Le Roy Junior/Senior High School, and most important, the levels of the substances detected were in all cases below applicable standards and criteria associated with potential health impacts and in most cases well below such standards.
• The substances found in the soil and water are commonly found in residential neighborhoods and parklands and, with one exception, were well below applicable standards and criteria associated with potential health impacts. There were no unexpected findings on the Junior/Senior High School Campus setting given its residential and recreational use and the past uses of the site. The one exception was that arsenic, a metal naturally occurring in soils in this part of the country, was detected in
one soil sample at the base of a gas well’s brine tank. It was present at a concentration slightly above certain regulatory criteria but within the norm for soils in this region. Given the level found, it is not a health risk.
• You may have been aware that during the air testing phase, Leader recommended we raise the height of the exhaust stacks connected to our boiler as on occasion a down draft would cause an exhaust odor in the boiler room and in the hallway near the boiler room. While not considered a health issue, the odor was an annoyance and so we proceeded with this project in March. Additional work will be done this summer so that this issue is effectively alleviated.
With respect to the costs associated with the testing, the state has so far committed to covering the stack project and 92% of Leader’s costs, which is truly good news for everyone in the District. We are hopeful that other incidental costs will also be supported by the state.
The best news of all is that our students are doing well. The Board of Education and I want to thank all of our students, staff and parents, as well as everyone in the community for their support and patience as we worked through this situation over the last several months. You all worked hard to ensure our students remained focused on their education, and for that I am truly grateful.
It is critical that at this time with year-end testing and special activities, and to ensure the District can continue to focus on our students, that we maintain a sense of calm and normalcy. At the same time we recognize that some may have additional questions. For that reason we are directing all questions you may have regarding the Leader report to Bill Albert at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bill will make every effort to be responsive to your question or that it is received by the person in the best position to provide an answer.
I wish everyone a safe and happy summer.