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Jana Elementary alumni worry about health concerns after results


“Do I have really bad genetics or is it Coldwater Creek?” Laura asks.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — Emily Pettit is far from her family.  

The North St. Louis County native moved to Germany in 2021. 

However, recent news hits close to home.

The 23-year-old is a former student of Jana Elementary School

She started at the school in 2004 and went from kindergarten until third grade.

Emily is now worried after hearing about the independent report finding radioactive contamination at Jana.

The troubling details reached her all the way in Europe, as her mom called with concerns.

Her mom, Laura Pettit, was a substitute at Jana.

Emily says, “I had known that Coldwater Creek was contaminated. I think everybody in the community has known that for years. But to know that there were such high levels at the elementary school that I went to – that my mom had substituted in. It’s hard to put into words, it was shocking.”

Both worry about the children currently there. 

But also their own family.

“There’s conflicting reports about radiation levels, you don’t know what to think. It’s very disappointing to hear that they knew about this for so long and not done anything,” she adds. 

Beyond possible exposure at the school, their family also lived close to Coldwater Creek.

Growing up, Laura recalls playing in the water.

“The creek ran through the backyard and we planted corn, that we all ate and the kids all played back there,” Laura says. 

And just like her mother, Emily also spent time near the water.

“I had no idea. When I would have friends come over, we would climb down in there and play in the water,” she says.

Laura admits it wasn’t until the last 10 years that she heard about the dangers of the creek. 

With recent findings, they’re trying to wrap their heads around the plethora of information.

“I’ve seen my family go through autoimmune diseases, lupus, both of my grandparents, who grew up in the North St. Louis County area died of cancer,” Emily shares. 

As for Laura, she says she faces four autoimmune diseases, with her siblings battling some too. She’s dealing with three different types of arthritis.

Laura also tells 5 On Your Side, four girls who lived near her growing up all had breast cancer. 

“Do I have really bad genetics or is it Coldwater Creek?” Laura asks.

Another parent reached out to 5 On Your Side and shared this:

“What about the previous 15K-20K students and teachers be doing since they were also exposed for at least forty years? Our three children all attended Jana Elementary. Our oldest has been affected by Neurological issues and Autoimmune diseases. We know the current parents are concerned but parents and children over the last 40 years may have taken these problems all over the country and are not aware why they may be sick.”

Another viewer also shared this with 5 On Your Side:

“I grew up in Florissant near Cold Water Creek, I lived there in the 80s and 90s. I know several people (including my best friend) who have died from various forms of cancer that could be related to Coldwater Creek.”

They are angered about the lack of action in the past and demand a change in the future.

Emily says, “I think the next generation really needs to push for answers and be proactive about our health.”

On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers says it will do testing at Jana Elementary inside and outside of the school on Monday.

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