Special to Iredell Free News

Soil testing at five schools in southern Iredell County revealed no significant findings that would explain elevated thyroid cancer rates in the two Mooresville ZIP codes.

The Iredell County Health Department, which has been working closely with state and local partners and elected officials to study the cancer cluster, reported the findings in a news release on Friday.

The Iredell County Local Thyroid Cancer Workgroup, in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory, conducted the soil tests to determine whether those five public schools had been constructed on coal combustion residuals (CCRs), commonly referred to as coal ash.

Mooresville Middle, Lake Norman Elementary, Lake Norman High, Lakeshore Middle, and Shepherd Elementary were selected for testing because they were all built or renovated during the window of time where coal ash was used as structural fill. Stumpy Creek Park was also tested and used as a control for background comparison data.

The study found “no anomalies or exceeding concentrations of toxic metals detected in the trace metal and radionuclide data generated from these soil samples,” according to the news release. Based on the report provided by the NC Policy Collaboratory, the data used to identify these sites indicate no additional school sites need to be sampled.

Further, the levels and distributions of radionuclides found in the soil cores were consistent with the levels and distributions expected in natural soils associated with the granitic bedrock found throughout Iredell County.

Finally, the trace elements and radionuclide data were examined to evaluate the possible presence of CCRs in the soil cores, and the results clearly rule out this possibility.

These findings can be found on the Iredell County Health Department Thyroid Cancer Information page at the following link: https://www.co.iredell.nc.us/DocumentCenter/View/15820.

While these results were originally planned to be completed and shared during the March 2020 Thyroid Cancer & Structural Coal Ash Facilities Community, the closure of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University laboratories as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay.

The Iredell County Local Thyroid Cancer Workgroup consists of the Iredell County Health Department, County Management, Iredell County Board of Commissioners, Sen. Vickie Sawyer, Rep. John Fraley, Iredell-Statesville Schools and Mooresville Graded Schools.

Although the community meeting was postponed and University research labs were closed and activities suspended, Iredell County, local elected officials and our research partners have continued progress and efforts researching the elevated thyroid cancer rates in the county.

Prior to the postponement of the community meeting, participants submitted questions through a survey to be answered by the panel of experts and elected officials.

The submitted questions have been answered by our panel of professionals and can be found on the Iredell County Health Department Thyroid Cancer Information page.

Iredell County Cancer Diagnosis Survey

In addition, the Iredell County Health Department has created a brief survey for residents to complete if they have been diagnosed with cancer within the last ten years. This survey will not replace the statutory requirement for health care provider reporting to the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry, but will enhance compliance with the statute.

When the health department receives a completed survey, it will be sent to the NC Central Cancer Registry where they use information from completed surveys to check their own internal records to see if the provider appropriately reported the cancer diagnosis. If the cancer diagnosis has not been reported, the Central Cancer Registry will contact the provider directly regarding this statutory requirement.

The survey can be found at the following link: Iredell County Cancer Diagnosis Survey

Completed surveys can be mailed, faxed or dropped off at any of the three health department locations that include the main location at 318 Turnersburg Highway, Statesville or the Environmental Health offices at Building Standards, 349 N. Center Street in Statesville or Government Center South, 610 East Center Avenue in Mooresville. Surveys can also be faxed to 704-878-5357. Please make sure the surveys are addressed to the Iredell County Health Director. Surveys cannot be completed or accepted electronically to ensure the security of this confidential protected health information.

The health department will be unable to collect this information verbally as currently all personnel resources are dedicated to COVID-19 pandemic response. Questions about the survey can be submitted to iredell.publicinfo@co.iredell.nc.us.

Learn More

Additional information related to Thyroid Cancer can be found on the Iredell County Health Department’s Thyroid Cancer webpage at https://www.co.iredell.nc.us/1255/Thyroid-Cancer-Information

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