Exclusive: Parents speak out about cancerous air in Fort Myers

Reporter: Jolena Esperto Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

In a WINK News Exclusive interview, parents shared their concerns about a facility near two schools releasing cancerous toxins into the air.

The Lee-Sar American Contract Systems facility in Fort Myers has been putting out cancer-causing chemicals for 12 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers with the EPA said the facility is spewing Ethelyn Oxide (ETO) into the air.

Parents of nearby Evangekucak Christian School now fear their kids will get cancer.

“Like, our kids aren’t just numbers, they’re faces. They have personalities. They have strengths and weaknesses. They’re people,” Bethany Coppens said. “I just want my kids to feel safe at their school because they always have. School has always been a saving grace for my kids. They love going to school. They love being there.”

Coppens is a mother of two students at the school. Her kids have been there since 2020. Before that, they attended the Montessori School of Fort Myers — another school in the ETO zone.

The EPA said prolonged exposure can cause breast cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and many other cancers.

The plant started to install advanced air cleaning equipment that it has said will reduce its ETO emissions by 99.9%. The system should be online next month.

Alexis Horn, mother of a 3-year-old son who has been attending school in the impacted zone for half of his life, wants change now. She wrote a letter to Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.

“Everyone’s pointing their fingers at each other and saying that their hands are tied to do anything,” Horn said. “I want actual action to ensure that this company is going to stop poisoning the village neighborhoods and the schools and workplaces that they’re operating in.”

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