MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — Some Malibu school facilities may contain illegal levels of a toxic compound that is dramatically higher than previously reported — as much as 7,400 times higher than legal limits, according to a parent-teacher coalition.
A report from BC Laboratories dated July 7 (PDF) shows independent testing conducted by parents and teachers found samples of contaminated caulking and PCBs at thousands of times the levels previously released to the public in dirt collected from rooms that were not previously tested, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility spokesperson Kirsten Stade said.
In response to the findings, parents and teachers are calling upon the EPA to reject Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s plan to leave polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, found inside the schools in place for up to 15 years, Stade said.
PCBs are classified by federal health officials as a Group 1 carcinogen and are linked with serious health effects, even at low levels, such as lower IQ and autism.
The report’s findings include one classroom at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School that reportedly had caulk containing 340,000 parts-per-million PCBs, which means approximately one-third of the caulk consisted of PCBs. The legal limit triggering removal is 50 ppm, Stade said.
Additionally, a teacher and her sixth-grade students had previously moved to the classroom to protect themselves from exposures in a middle school classroom that contained caulk only moderately above the 50 ppm legal threshold, Stade said.
Testing also found PCB levels at 370,000 ppm in the in the interior doorframe of the high school’s woodshop room, contrasted with the highest level previously reported by the district of 1,870 ppm in the library at Malibu High, according to the report.
In October, teachers at Malibu Middle and High Schools and Juan Cabrillo Elementary raised concerns to district officials about suspicion of toxic contamination on campus, citing multiple cases of thyroid cancer and a dozen cases of thyroid disease. Others have complained of rashes, migraines, hair loss and other health effects they believe to be caused by on-site contamination.
Jennifer deNicola, president of Malibu Unites, said the results carry personal significance for her family.
“Sixth-grade students, including my own child, were unnecessarily exposed when relocated to a room that was more toxic than the room they were moved from,” said deNicola. “Superintendent Sandra Lyon knew when relocating them to this classroom that it had been previously occupied by a teacher with thyroid cancer, yet she did not test this classroom.”
There was no immediate response to the report from district officials.