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District Deems All Malibu School Buildings 'Safe'

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Posted: Sunday, August 17, 2014 7:00 am

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has completed its environmental testing and cleaning of classrooms at Malibu High School, Middle School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary, deeming all buildings safe and reopened as the first day of classes nears.

Two remaining buildings (D and E) at Juan Cabrillo Elementary were reopened on Wednesday, along with the school library, according the district. One administration room is still being "sampled and cleared." 

Two buildings at Malibu High were reopened as well — D and G. Building D is a classroom building and G is the woodshop building. Those two were the last to be reopened, meaning all nine Malibu High/Middle School buildings are open.

"To date, all results for environmental tests conducted over the summer have found that Malibu High and Juan Cabrillo Elementary buildings are safe for students and staff, based on EPA benchmarks," the district said. 

A group of parents remain angry with the district though, believing caulk samples — not air and dust — should be tested to verify that the classrooms are safe to occupy. On Tuesday, resident Cindy Crawford even offered to foot the bill for caulk testing. At a board meeting on Wednesday, her financial offer was declined, according to video posted on Malibu Unites' Facebook page

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  • Cassandra Wiseman posted at 2:15 pm on Tue, Aug 19, 2014.

    Cassandra Wiseman Posts: 15

    I absolutely agree that we need to focus on the toxic soil found at Malibu High as well. We are waiting for the DTSC to give us their findings but it seems like they have passed the toxic box back to the EPA by saying it's all from the Monsanto window caulking. And it is probably that too. But what's in the soil scares me because my son spent most of his academic life at Malibu Middle School rolling in the quad before and after it was improperly remediated of 48 truck loads of soil by the BB Committee.

    It is shocking to me, as a parent at Malibu High School, that SSMUSD Board Members, Laurie Lieberman, Robert Melchur and Ben Allen are running as environmental and fiscally and socially responsible candidates.

    “All Children Deserve a Healthy Learning Environment” -US Environmental Protection Agency

    In October 2013, twenty-one Malibu Middle and High School teachers sent a letter to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District stating that their “health has been adversely affected” by working on the Malibu High School campus. Three of the 21 teachers had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer within a six-month period, and the others were experiencing symptoms such as migraines, hair loss, respiratory problems, and rashes. As of today, we know of a fourth case of thyroid cancer, many with thyroid disease and children diagnosed with autoimmune illnesses, including my son.

    The teachers and community members learned that three years earlier, soil on campus had tested positive for nine toxins, including PCBs, lead, DDT, Chlordane and additional pesticides known to be carcinogenic. Parents also learned that in the summer of 2011, more than 1,000 cubic yards of toxic soil was removed from the center of the campus. Parents and teachers had been told this was being done as part of a campus improvement project, not as toxic soil remediation. Upon learning this, teachers became worried for themselves and their students and asked to have their classrooms and soil tested for toxins, specifically those discovered in 2010. Teachers and parents at adjacent Juan Cabrillo Elementary School have also joined in this call since the schools were built at about the same time on the same plot of land.

    The environmental issues at Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary have caused much concern for our community. Many dedicated citizens have been working behind the scenes to ensure proper testing and transparency of data.

    November election candidates, Laurie Lieberman, Robert Melcher and Ben Allen took turns as Presidents and members of the SSMUSD that has not only ignored our concerns when we raise them at the School Board Meetings but are out right rude and arrogant and even have sunk low enough to ordered the microphone turned off as one of the teachers spoke to them,about the health concerns. This teacher had a bandage across her throat from her latest thyroid biopsy at the time.

    The idea that Ben Allen is a fiscally responsible candidate is outrageous too. As a mother who has spent the last 26 years of her life baking cookies for bake sales and running herself ragged to raise money for our school to stop the firing of important teachers and limits of access to classes the kids need, it has been absolutely galling and distressing to witness the reckless and inhumane behavior of the SMMUSD re-election candidates Laurie Lieberman, and Robert Melchur and Ben Allen and the rest of the SMMUSD Board .

    APART FROM OSCAR DE LA TORRE, the only compassionate, fiscal responsible and honest soul on this current SMMUSD Board.

    SMMUSD CFO Jan Maez has spent over a MILLION Dollars of Santa Monica and MalibuSchool District dollars on hiring the expensive law firm Pillsbury to represent the Board over this contamination case, although no one, not even the sick teachers has threatened to sue them, and to hire Mark Katchen, a known anti-Environmentalist. SMMUSD gave Mark Katchen over three hundred thousand of our school's money to handle the bad PR the Board was receiving over this contamination issue.

    Hugh Kaufman, senior analyst and Co FOUNDER of the EPA, can explain who Mark Katchen and his associates are and who their clients are. He can tell you who Mark Katchen, Pillsbury and Environ are and their long history of being anti environmentalist firms. And yet these are the firms, the current SMMUSD candidates who are running for re-election, Laurie Lieberman and Robert Melcher and State Senate Candidate Ben Allen have hired in the last ten months to deal with the contamination problem that his Board created at Malibu High. Hugh, a former Air Force Captain, co Founded the EPA and as their senior analyst in Hazardous Waste Management since the Nixon Administration, has co-written the laws the current SMMUSD have broken.

    I would really recommend you contact Paula Dinerstein from PEER in Washington DC. An attorney, she has been amazing at representing the teachers and helping the parents at Malibu High in this fight against President Ben Allen and the SSMUSD. She can be contacted at PEER which is an amazing and powerful non-profit in Washington DC representing public employees who whistle blow for environmental responsibility in the public work place. Their list of clients and battles is amazing. Thank God for people like Paula and Jeff.

    These are the known contaminants found in the soil at Malibu High in 2010:
    Soil Contaminants
    Toxins Levels Found in the Soil at Malibu High School in 2010:

    PCB Araclor 1254: 1420 ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 89ug/kg)

    Toluene: 1.1mg/l to 4.3mg/l

    Benzene: exceeded residential CHHSL

    DDE: 361ug/kg

    DDT: 46.7ug/kg

    Alpha Chlordane: 683 ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

    Gamma Chlordane: 305ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

    Technical Chlordane: 1910ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

    Lead: 304mg/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 80mg/kg)

    Arsenic: 10.6mg/kg

    Cadmium: 4.77mg/kg


    Pesticides affected 200 square feet of soil (22 yards) and PCBs affect 16,000 square feet of soil (1180 yards).

    Residential exposures screening levels were used based on DTSC guidance 1999 with the most sensitive exposures.

    (source Removal Action Workplan 8-5-10 pg 10-15)

    Click Here to See Full Arcadis Action Workplan Aug 5, 2010

    Click Here to See Chemical Descriptions from Arcadis Report Appendix A

    DDT was extensively used in the past for the control of malaria, typhus, and other insect-transmitted diseases. It was banned for use in the United States in 1972, except in the case of a public health emergency.

    Acute oral exposure to high doses of DDT in humans results in CNS effects, such as headaches, nausea, and convulsions. The science on DDT’s human health impacts has continued to mount over the years, with recent studies showing harm at very low levels of exposure. Studies show a range of human health effects linked to DDT and its breakdown product, DDE:

    breast & other cancers
    male infertility
    miscarriages & low birth weight
    developmental delay
    nervous system & liver damage

    DDE is a breakdown product of DDT and has no uses.

    DDE has been listed as a pollutant of concern to EPA’s Great Waters Program due to its persistence in the environment, potential to bioaccumulate, and toxicity to humans and the environment.

    Exposure to chlordane occurs from its past use as a pesticide.

    Chlordane was used in the United States from 1948 to 1978 as a pesticide on agricultural crops, lawns, and gardens and as a fumigating agent. In 1978, EPA canceled the use of chlordane on food crops and phased out other above-ground uses for the next 5 years. From 1983 to 1988, chlordane’s only approved use was to control termites in homes. The pesticide was applied underground around the foundation of homes. In 1988, all approved uses of chlordane in the United States were terminated; however, manufacture for export still continues. Chlordane is a persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutant targeted by EPA.

    Chlordane is an OSHA Select carcinogen

    Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and minerals and it therefore may enter the air, water, and land from wind-blown dust and may get into water from runoff and leaching. Arsenic cannot be destroyed in the environment. It can only change its form, or become attached to or separated from particles. Arsine is a gas consisting of arsenic and hydrogen. Arsine gas is extremely toxic to humans, with headaches, vomiting, and abdominal pains occurring within a few hours of exposure.

    In the past, inorganic arsenic compounds were predominantly used as pesticides, primarily on cotton fields and in orchards. Inorganic arsenic compounds can no longer be used in agriculture. The greatest use of arsenic in alloys is in lead-acid batteries for automobiles. Presently, about 90% of all arsenic produced is used as a preservative for wood to make it resistant to rotting and decay.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and EPA also has classified inorganic arsenic as a known human carcinogen.

    Lead poisoning affects nearly every system in the body, and often occurs without noticeable symptoms. Although lead can affect adults, children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead. Low but chronic exposure can affect the developing nervous system in subtle but persistent ways. In children, blood lead levels as low as 10 to 15 μg/dL can stunt growth rates, affect attention span, cause learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, impair hearing acuity, and cause behavioral problems.

    CDC lowered the level at which it recommends medical atten­tion, also known as the “blood lead intervention level,” on three separate occasions. After research showed that cognitive and developmental damage occurs at blood lead levels as low as 10 μg/dL, CDC lowered the blood lead level of concern to the cur- rent 10 μg/dL value in 1991. There is no known safe level of lead in blood.

    The EPA has classified lead and inorganic lead compounds as “probable human carcinogens.”

    Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities.

    Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. In the past it was also commonly used as an industrial solvent (a substance that can dissolve or extract other substances) and as a gasoline additive, but these uses have been greatly reduced in recent decades.

    Benzene is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals.

    Toluene is added to gasoline, used to produce benzene, and used as a solvent. Exposure to toluene may occur from breathing ambient or indoor air affected by such sources. The central nervous system (CNS) is the primary target organ for toluene toxicity in both humans and animals for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures. CNS dysfunction and narcosis have been frequently observed in humans acutely exposed to elevated airborne levels of toluene; symptoms include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, and nausea.

    Chronic inhalation exposure of humans to toluene also causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, and headache. Human studies have reported developmental effects, such as CNS dysfunction, attention deficits, and minor craniofacial and limb anomalies, in the children of pregnant women exposed to high levels of toluene or mixed solvents by inhalation. EPA has concluded that that there is inadequate information to assess the carcinogenic potential of toluene.

    Cadmium is a natural element in the earth’s crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), chlorine (cadmium chloride), or sulfur (cadmium sulfate, cadmium sulfide).

    Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and exposure to this metal is known to cause cancer and targets the body’s cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that cadmium is carcinogenic to humans.


    (while not found MHS soil, it is in MHS)

    Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance it has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials

    Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.

    Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are:

    lung cancer
    mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart
    asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs

  • PITS posted at 11:54 am on Tue, Aug 19, 2014.

    PITS Posts: 2

    PCBs, benzene and arsenic were found in the soil in 2010. Yet, the only focus lately has been PCBs in the caulk. Why is PCB-contaminated soil no longer considered a possible cause of illnesses at the schools?

  • Cassandra Wiseman posted at 9:56 pm on Mon, Aug 18, 2014.

    Cassandra Wiseman Posts: 15


    Why do you support sending children and teachers into school rooms having toxic PCBs at levels 7000 times health standards, according to EPA regulations at 40 CFR 761?

    And why do you hide behind initials? If you truly believe what you're writing, then use your name.

    The caulking in the windows that contain PCBs could be tested according to the EPA standards and removed and replaced and our children and their teachers could go on with their education sans fear and migraines and rashes.

    MMA, Are your kids attending their first day tomorrow? Mine is and he is so excited. Tomorrow morning begins the culmination of everything he has wanted his whole young life: to be a Senior and Varsity soccer for Malibu High. I would rather fight with City Hall and the SMMUSD and Sandra Lyon than with my son. He is the only one of those listed above who is doing the right thing.

    The EPA refused to be a party to the City Hall event to help people like you who are pumping out false , misleading, and inaccurate information about
    the continuing violations of EPA's PCB health standards at 40 CFR 761.

  • Marianne posted at 8:36 pm on Mon, Aug 18, 2014.

    Marianne Posts: 177

    Public schools are not inspected by local authorities, as state facilities they are inspected per state regulations. City of Malibu reviews the project so that it conforms to the Local Coastal Program and Municipal Code.

  • MMA posted at 12:27 pm on Mon, Aug 18, 2014.

    MMA Posts: 283

    But cleaning and testing have been done in all Malibu HS buildings. schalibu and concermed citizen. Are you criticising the cleaning and testing? At what point will you be satisfied! Which testers, which results and at what cost will satisfy you? Will the buildings have to be torn down and rebuilt before you will stop the drumbeat? Maybe not even then?

  • Concerned Citizen posted at 10:11 am on Mon, Aug 18, 2014.

    Concerned Citizen Posts: 91

    I agree with the post below, I feel somewhat UN-reassured so far that in FACT the Buildings are SAFE...ODD that our "ever-diligent" Malibu City Inspectors are NOT ALL OVER THIS??????

  • schalibu posted at 9:46 am on Mon, Aug 18, 2014.

    schalibu Posts: 16

    I continue to be very uncomfortable with the don't test and don't tell policy. Why not test and really get to the bottom of this. It seems simple enough! Any other course is turning a blind eye to the welfare of our children. I am loyal to public school, and our children have thrived at both Cabrillo and MHA, but this is stretching my faith and trust to the limit.