Board of Education

Before a packed house at Malibu City Hall on Thursday night, federal and state officials joined the school district in outlining a plan to determine whether classrooms at Malibu High School, Middle School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School are safe for students to inhabit. 

"Ultimately what teachers, parents and staff what to know is, are we safe?" said Supt. Sandra Lyon. "We really want to make sure that those questions get answered."

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency assured parents, teachers, community members and the Board of Education that preliminary testing results for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) did not raise any significant red flags in the federal agency's eyes.

"Generally, as we looked at the [preliminary] data set, looking at it as a whole, it's rather fairly low and consistent with what we would expect with buildings of this era," said Steve Armann, a PCB program coordinator with the EPA's California office.

Still, the district is required to conduct more testing and cleanup after one caulk sample exceeded EPA regulations for PCBs.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Supt. Sandra Lyon outlined a four-part plan to assess environmental and health concerns between now and February:

1. Hire an environmental engineering firm to oversee a plan to remove toxic materials such as contaminated caulk from the three campuses and handle the "best management practices" to assure the campuses are safe for students, teachers and staff.

2. Review district facilities and soils in response to concerns of PCB presence in building materials, air and soil.

3. Determine the "best practices for cleaning" facilities districtwide.

4. Create an air quality plan in response to test results that showed elevated levels of carbon dioxide in some Malibu High classrooms and the possibility of PCBs in air samples at the schools as well.

Check back in the next few days for more on Thursday's meeting and updates on the environmental and health concerns at the Malibu schools. Meeting notes and video will also be available at ssmusd.org.

(1) comment

Matt Horns

This "four-part plan" seems to me both reasonable and appropriate.

The statement "test results that showed elevated levels of carbon dioxide in some Malibu High classrooms " is to me a red flag. I don't know, but I suspect that elevated CO2 levels were produced by dozens of people breathing in a room with inadequate ventilation. Proper ventilation assures that airborne toxins are constantly removed from the indoor space and fresh clean air is constantly provided in that space.

I know almost nothing about this issue, but I do know that proper ventilation is critical to maintaining acceptable air quality in classrooms.

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