WILLIAMSTOWN -- A state report has found that Mount Greylock Regional High School isn't the site of a cancer cluster.
The report, which was completed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Bureau of Environmental Health this month, concluded that the number of thyroid cancer cases reported from 1982-2008 in the four towns that fed into the school district didn't appear to be unusual. Those four towns were Williamstown, Lanesborough, Hancock and New Ashford.
The Department of Public Health's investigation was requested by Susan Handel, a parent of a Mount Greylock graduate who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2011.
The report also concluded that the potential exposure of students and staff to the chemical perchlorate -- which was first tested for, and then detected at amounts above the state advisory level in the school's well water supply in 2004 -- wasn't expected to have harmed people's health.
"[T]he incidence of thyroid cancer in these communities would not be expected to be associated with the historical presence of perchlorate in the Mount Greylock Regional School wells," the report stated.
As a result of the conclusions, the Department of Public Health recommended "no further investigation into historical perchlorate contamination associated with two former wells located on the grounds of Mount Greylock Regional School, and no further investigation of thyroid cancer incidence in Hancock, Lanesborough,
Robert Ericson, chairman of the Mount Greylock School Committee, said Wednesday that based on the state's findings, the numbers certainly didn't look large enough to speak of a real serious situation.
"They're closing the books on it, and I guess we will, too," he said.
Ericson added that he expects the report will be discussed by the School Committee to some extent.
"I have to say that it looks like a very thorough report. It looks like they looked at all sides of the situation of perchlorate in the water and the number of people affected by it," he said.
In July 2011, the Transcript published an article about concerns among community members that the high school might be the site of a cancer cluster and that the past presence of perchlorate in the school's water supply might have been responsible for it. Two additional articles followed, including one on Nov. 7 in which a representative from the Department of Public Health said the state agency had begun work on an analysis of thyroid cancer rates in the towns served by Mount Greylock.
At that time, the Transcript had learned of 12 former Mount Greylock students and staff members who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and five others who had experienced thyroid issues, including Graves' disease. Also, one other person had developed Hodgkin's lymphoma, one had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and one had developed a rare sarcoma.
Handel said her biggest issue with the report was that the thyroid cancer cases recorded in the Massachusetts Cancer Registry didn't include individuals who live out-of-state.
"There are former students and staff of Mount Greylock living throughout the country who may not be aware that this is happening. If they had thyroid cancer, they don't show up on the state's registry. We really don't know the number," she said. Evaluation of Potential Exposure to Perchlorate-Contaminated Well Water at Mount Greylock Regional High Sch...