Local News

Malibu Teachers Claim School May Be Source of Cancer

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has agreed to investigate concerns about possible contaminants at Malibu High School that some teachers said may have made them sick, according to a memo sent to staff last week.

filephoto Malibu High School

File photo of Malibu High School (credit: malibuhigh.org)

The investigation, originally reported by the Malibu Times, comes after 20 teachers signed a letter suggesting mold and other contaminants in some of the school’s buildings made their colleagues ill, including three who were diagnosed with stage-one thyroid cancer in the last six months.

Three other teachers were treated for thyroid problems, while seven suffered from migraines. Complaints of skin rashes, hair loss and respiratory problems were also listed in the letter.

“One teacher was also diagnosed and treated for bladder cancer as a possible result of airborne chemicals two years ago,” the letter stated.

In 2011, soil was removed from the campus to make way for a $30 million renovation project.

Much of that soil was reportedly contaminated with lead, pesticides and PCB’s — a chemical which has been shown to cause cancer.

Each of the affected teachers spent long periods of time in the main middle school building, the music and drama building, and the school theater, according to the Malibu Times. Malibu middle and high school are located on the same campus.

“You know, at this point we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that that building isn’t safe… that any of the buildings aren’t safe. But in an abundance of caution we’re making sure we do a thorough investigation because these teachers have raised these health concerns,” Superintendent Sandra Lyon said Monday.

The staff was informed that the district hired “a highly qualified environmental consulting firm, to investigate these concerns and to recommend corrective action to address any hazardous conditions, should any be identified,” in a memo sent by Lyon on Friday.

So far, no children have complained of illness, according to Lyon.

“An environmental concern would always worry me, but I’m happy with the steps that the school’s taking. It seems like they’re being very proactive about it,” parent, Anna Caldwell, said.

A voicemail went out Sunday night and an email was scheduled to be sent Monday to notify parents of the investigation, Lyon said.

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