Erin Brockovich Probes Teen Illness Mystery
Investigates possible ties between teens in Le Roy, NY, and chemical spill
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 27, 2012 5:49 AM CST

(Newser) – 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."