NC State Poe Hall Linking to Cancer Cases

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Poe Hall is a building on the NC State campus, constructed in 1971. The hall is used for psychology and education classes. (Photo used by permission of Nick Graham)

In November 2023, Poe Hall, a building on the NC State campus that used to hold classes, was shut down after high levels of PCBs were found. (NCSU Initial Message on Poe Hall)

The EPA describes Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) as man-made organic chemicals. These chemicals can potentially cause cancer, fertility issues, and other illnesses. 

Now in 2024, over one hundred people have come out to share their stories about Poe Hall. Whether they know someone who got cancer later in life after studying in the building, or they were diagnosed. 

In 2020, NC State alumni Tremaine Brittain reported to leadership at NC State that she and three other people had been diagnosed with cancer after regularly visiting Poe Hall, but she never received a response.

NC State didn’t test the building until three years later when an employee filed a complaint to the State Department of Labor, and thirteen more cases of cancer were reported. 

WRAL has made the most detailed reports on the reported cases of cancer linked back to Poe Hall. In their report, the most common diagnosis is breast cancer, and in total women make up 77% of the reported diagnoses that are linked to Poe Hall.  

One student, who attended classes at Poe Hall for three years, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their junior year and soft tissue cancer senior year. WRAL also mentions that the average age for cancer diagnoses is nineteen, which makes the student reporting theirs during their college years concerning. 

Sandy Alford, Ana Mora, Michelle Kranig, and Madison Hudson are all people who spent time in Poe Hall and were later diagnosed with cancer. 

Students taking psychology or education classes in the Poe Hall building have spoken out, sharing their experiences. 

Ellie Thompson, previous Newspaper Editor in Chief, and current NC State student, said via text, “We have gotten emails/video reports as they release information. The most concerning thing to me is some reports of students getting sick and linking it back to the PCBs in Poe, but I don’t know specifically what NC State is doing about it.” 

The risk of sickness is not the only issue that Poe Hall is causing, the shutdown is making it difficult for current students to attend classes. “Because I’m a Psychology student, many of my classes should be in Poe (and were last semester) so they have been scattered across campus,” Thompson said via text.

NC State Response: 

This is not the first time NC State has reported PCBs at Poe Hall. Detailed in this report from 2018, it was noted that high levels of PCBs were found on the caulking on the exterior of the building. 

In the report, executed by the Matrix Health and Safety Consultants, it stated that “Caulk samples POE-1, POE-2, DH-2, and DH-3 contain PCBs in excess of 50 ppm and are considered hazardous special waste according to the EPA.” 

NC State did not conduct any more testing after receiving these results; however, it is still being determined if the caulking was ever removed or replaced from the building. 

As Thomspon mentioned, NC State has communicated with students and the public about what is happening for this school year. 

NC State released the report from the initial testing in 2023 that shut down the building. This report explains that Poe Hall was built in 1971 when using PCBs in building materials was common, suggesting that this is the cause for the hazardous levels found. 

NC State even made a website to keep detailed information on the testing and news regarding Poe Hall. (NCSU Poe Hall) The building is still undergoing testing and will be for at least the remainder of 2024.

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