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Originally published October 10 2013

Malibu High School may be contaminated with carcinogens, teachers fear

by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer

(NaturalNews) A Malibu, California, High School building, including eight classrooms, has been evacuated under speculation of high carcinogen levels that are making students and teachers sick. Twenty teachers from the school have signed a letter stating concerns over three faculty members who have recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the past six months. They also state that seven other faculty members have come down with persistent migraines in that time and that some teachers have experienced unexplained hair loss, respiratory illness and skin rashes.

Students are experiencing similar symptoms. Many have gone home early in the past six months, feeling sick. One of the students, Sofia Castellani, says, "I have gotten migraines and my friends have bad migraines."

PCB contamination likely

The teachers think the illnesses derive from PCB soil contamination on campus but are also calling on school district officials to test for mold, asbestos, pesticides, lead, rat feces and radioactive chemicals. Back in 2010, a draft environmental impact report was conducted. The report verified that lead, pesticide and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) levels were well above legal state levels. In 2011, during a summer vacation, a hazmat-style operation was called in to remove the tainted soil three feet deep near the old school building. Contractors removed over a thousand yards of the contaminated dirt.

After the construction project, the "total hazard index" rating of 2 was reduced to the safe state level of 1. Despite the change of numbers on paper, what might still remain in nearby soil deposits?

Could more deposits of contaminated soil still exist? Could the construction project have opened up a can of worms, so to speak, releasing toxic deposits of PCBs and pesticides into the surrounding school yard?

Back then, the report relayed that "PCBs are the primary contributor to the risk and hazard," and now the teachers believe the contamination may remain and are calling on the soil below the school building to be tested.

PCBs were outlawed in the US in 1979, but they can still remain in soil today, where they may seep into water or agriculture. PCBs have been shown to affect a wide variety of human body systems, including the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

School moves teachers and children, tests for mold

Teachers have also requested that the school district test for mold. Superintendent Sandra Lyon has since hired Executive Environmental, an Arcadia-based environmental consulting firm, to look for mold in the school buildings. The school will undergo full blown air-quality monitoring, and they will review the 2010 soil contamination report. The superintendent will also be interviewing teachers individually to learn about the causes of their health problems.

Meanwhile, parents of the schoolchildren are growing concerned. A group sent a letter to the superintendent, calling for the school district to move their students and asking for the environmental tests results.

The superintendent has since removed the students and teachers from Building E, where most of the health problems were arising. They have been moved to classrooms at the Juan Cabrillo Elementary School until Building E is deemed safe.

Superintendent Sandra Lyon's stated, "Over the past few weeks we have heard from teachers at Malibu High School who are concerned that health issues experienced by some staff members could possibly be related to environmental contaminants. Please know that safety of our staff and students is a primary concern. We appreciate that staff members have conveyed these concerns to us so that we can take the appropriate action. I can assure you that once the investigation and analysis are completed we will address the recommendations and will work with closely with you as we plan and implement any recommended next steps."

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