About 25,000 students have lived in the Dioxin Dorms since they began to re-open in 1992, after the PCB and dioxin release of December 1991. Gradually I am meeting some of the students who lived there and began to develop health problems; every year I am approached by some. I would like to introduce you to one of those people. This is her statement, which I received in February 2012.
My name is Elzabeth Marks and in August of 1992, I was an excited twenty-one year old woman embarking on her first college dorm experience. Due to insufficient financial aid for another university, I came to SUNY New Paltz at the last moment as a transfer student. I attended the college from the fall of 1992 through August of 1994. Originally in 1992 I was placed in Shango dormitory with two eighteen year old freshman girls from NYC. Given the age difference and the small living quarters, I requested a new room assignment. I thought I was fortunate to find an opening in Gage Hall and moved in during the second week of the semester. I was not informed of the explosion earlier that year on campus or of the prior presence of PCBs and dioxins within the dorm itself.
Within a month of living in Gage Hall, I started to become ill. I had always been a healthy child and young adult so this was new to me. As the semester progressed, so did my symptoms. I experienced severe headaches, trouble eating, keeping any food in my stomach and was constantly spitting up blood.
I went to the campus health center several times and was ultimately advised to go to the hospital. I was admitted into the hospital where they pumped my body with fluids and tested my blood and urine for a cause to my symptoms. The ER doctor told me my esophagus was bleeding and I most likely had inflamed stomach ulcers that were also bleeding. Due to the severity of my condition I was given antibiotics, medications for the ulcers and placed on a liquid diet for a minimum of six weeks. I altered what I drank, ate and cut all unhealthy foods from my diet.
My life changed that day in the hospital. No longer was I a healthy young girl.