St. Petersburg, Florida - Is a St. Petersburg office building making the people who work there sick, and if so, who is responsible? That's what several people who used to work there asked the 10 News Investigators to find out.
Cynthia Ross, Ashley Clute and Kyra Pinta all worked in St. Petersburg building for PRIDE - a state agency that works with the prison system. They have a deadly connection, cancer, and they are not alone. A total of 17 workers have cancer and five of them have died.
"The only common denominator all of us have is that building and cancer. It's not age, it's not gender, that's the only thing we have in common" said Ashley Clute.
Pam Carl's daughter Patti Dick was one of the five that died. She was only in her 20's when she was diagnosed with cancer.
"When you started seeing the numbers? Unbelievable I'm overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed at seven and now I'm flabbergasted at 15 ... and five of them gone."
Patti's daughter Haley wasage threeat the time she was diagnosed. "She asked me if I ever knew her mommy when she wasn't sick. Did you know my mommy when she wasn't sick. I'm like, Oh my God. Because Haley only knew her mommy when she went to the hospital for chemo two times a week and radiation another day a week" said Carl.
When Patti Dick was diagnosed, some others who worked in the building had already been diagnosed with cancer. She believed there was something wrong with the building.
"As soon as I was diagnosed, Patti said we're getting it from this building ...it was her mission to get the building tested." said Clute.
At that point, the employees contacted the state and askedthem to run tests on the building to determine why so many people were getting seriously ill and why some had already died. However, the state said that because not all of the cancers were the same, it wasn't going to test the building for environmental hazards.
"It makes me angry when we called and the state basically told us because it is not the same kind of cancerso they're not going to test it. It was just point blank were not going to do anything" said Ashley
The cancers did run the gambit from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, skin cancer to prostate cancer. Several workers have fertility problems, several have severe allergies or asthma and a few have masses on their pancreas.
"Somebody is not doing their job" said Cynthia Ross. "They just don't want to. I'm not the type of person that would cower and say ok, no you're wrong, if I've got to find out to prove you wrong I'll do it."
But it wasn't only the state that didn't believe the building wasn't causing the problems. Kyra Pintasaid coworkers who weren'thaving health issues didn't believe themeither.
"The ones that aren't sick and didn't get sick, they are the naysayers.Oh it's not the building, it's different types of illnesses, it's different types of cancer across the board" said Pinta.
Ashley Clute told us when those whose health was affected started asking questions about the building, they were made to feel like they were crazy.
"You're probably the first person that's made all of us feel like we're not crazy to think it is the building .. and more than anything we just want to know, just for the people we lost that were friends of ours, their memory plus our piece of mind" said Clute.
While the state refused to do any testing, the owner of the building did water and air tests and the company they hired found no problems.
"When my oncologist asked what they tested for in the building, as far as I know it was just the water and the air and she named other things and I said no, I don't think they tested for that" said Clute.
Other environmental testing companies we checked say the soil should have been sampled and the building should have been tested for radon as well. While the state still won't do any testing, the owner of the building who admits he is shocked by the amount of illnesses, says he will run whatever tests are necessary.
"Hopefully, something will come out of it so Patti's fight isn't for nothing. I'm not saying anyone is doing anything malicious, I'm just saying it's a lot of people to get cancer and the only common thing is the building"
But despite the state's refusal to consider there is an environmental problem and the initial private tests found no problem, many say the high incidence of cancer, serious disease and deaths is too high for it to be a coincidence and not some sort of environmental issue.