Malibu High to clean rooms amid cancer concerns

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Malibu High School buildings will be cleaned and tested during the winter holiday break after a cancer-causing chemical was found in some rooms, the school superintendent said.

Some rooms will be cleaned of dust and air and dust samples will be taken to ensure they are safe before classes resume on Jan. 6, Sandra Lyon, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said in a Thursday letter to parents and staff, the Santa Monica Daily Press ( reported.

In October, 20 staff members, including three diagnosed with thyroid cancer, wrote a letter to the district complaining of a variety of health-related issues. Rumors spread about potential contaminants.

Students from 11 classrooms were switched to other rooms on campus and a nearby elementary school.

Later testing at dozens of locations throughout the school found elevated levels of PCBs in caulking around some window sills.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in industrial and commercial products before they were banned in 1979. In some studies, the compounds have been associated with cancer and damage to the immune system.

The district and regulators previously announced plans to clean up the caulking, although they said exposure to the PCB-laced caulking doesn’t pose an immediate health threat.

The main concern is that the caulking might create an increased cancer risk when it deteriorates and particles enter the air.

Earlier air sampling found no safety issues but Lyons’ letter says the new sampling is designed “to provide further assurances to the community as we return teachers and students to the previously vacated classrooms.”

Teachers, however, will decide when to return to those classrooms, she added.


Information from: Santa Monica Daily Press ,

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