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Wildomar Toxic Homes Claims

wildomar-picDozens of residents in the Autumnwood development in the Riverside County community of Wildomar claim the soil beneath their homes is toxic, and is making them sick.

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WILDOMAR, Calif. (KTLA) — Some residents in Wildomar claim they’re getting sick because of toxic soil in their neighborhoods.

But at a town hall meeting on Tuesday night, officials insisted that they’ve tested the soil and the air, and found that both are safe.

“We do not see any evidence that indicates there is a risk of hazardous substances, particularly volatile organic carbons, in the soil,” said John Scandura, of the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

“There really wasn’t anything there that we would think would cause a health concern,” echoed Jill Whynot, of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Still, the homeowners from the Autumnwood development question the test results presented to them by the AQMD.

As reported by KTLA, Tom Ciccarelli and his infant daughter, now six months old, have not lived in their home on Amaryllis Court since his wife Fatima died in August.

An autopsy revealed high levels of barium in Fatima Ciccarelli’s body.

“The woman had an elevated barium level of 1,100 micrograms per liter, which is close to the lethal level,” said UCLA toxicologist Dr. James Dahlgren.

He believes that Fatima Ciccarelli, 36, and a second Autumnwood resident, 32-year-old Cynthia Turner, were exposed to lethal doses of soluble barium.

“Even though it’s soluble in the soil, when you ingest it or breathe it into your lungs, it’s transformed into barium chloride,” he explained.

Dr. Dahlgren said that barium chloride is “extremely soluble and highly toxic.”

“I spent almost a year in Iraq. Is this the system that I fought for?” Tom Ciccarelli wondered on Tuesday night. “This ain’t the American dream.”

WILDOMAR, Calif. (KTLA) — There are exclusive new developments in claims of contamination in a Riverside county neighborhood.

Residents in a Wildomar community believe their homes are making them sick, but now new test results appear to contradict their claims.

South Coast Air Quality Management invited KTLA to its lab, where it analyzed air and soil samples collected from three homes in the Autumnwood development.

“We hope it’s reassuring that what we found is n different than what we would find in any other subdivision in Southern California,” said AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood.

The results may be reassuring for some property owners, but Xonia Villanueva, who abandoned her home on Amaryllis Court for health reasons, says he isn’t buying it.

“I don’t think their testing is adequate,” she told KTLA.

Villanueva is among 60 people in the Wildomar neighborhood who claim chemical vapors from the soil under their homes is making them sick.

“What was done here is grab samples,” she said. “Grab samples are instantaneous samples that are taken for about 20 to 30 seconds of air.”

“That would be like living in your home and only taking a gasp of air. We’re living in our homes 24 hours a day.”

“We did collect samples over a very short period with so-called ‘grab samples,’ but we also went back and collected them over a period of several hours,” Atwood noted.

“In fact, the two results were very, very similar, so this tells us that our methods were sound,” he said.

Still, Villanueva claims that tests done by a law firm representing her and other homeowners prove there is a hazardous mixture of volatile compounds in the soil.

Villanueva says that supports a claim that neighbor Fatima Chicarrelli died from prolonged exposure.

An autopsy reveled elevated levels of barium in Chicarrelli’s body, but where it came from is still a mystery.

The law firm has yet to test to confirm that her exposure came from the soil.

AQMD says the levels just aren’t there.

“We found that barium was well within the typical range you’d see in soils in this part of the country,” Atwood said.

“We can say that the homes that we tested — the three homes — should not have any concerns for the air indoors or outdoors or from the soil in their yards,” he insisted.

“This is not going to quiet us,” Villanueva maintained. “We are not done, by far. There is something there. DTSC needs to step up to the plate. They need to do their job.”


WILDOMAR, Calif. (KTLA) — Kaylie Chicarrelli will never know her mother Fatima.

Her husband Tom was left to raise their newborn daughter after the 30-something mom died mysteriously just 24 hours after going to the ER for a flu-like cough.

“And the really bad part is Fatima didn’t know she was going there to die, she didn’t even kiss Kaylie goodbye,” Chicarrelli said.

Fatima and Tom were living in their dream home on Amaryllis Court in Wildomar.

It’s the Riverside County neighborhood where dozens of residents have complained that the soil trucked in to build their homes homes back in 2006 is now making them sick.

Tom fears the toxic soil led to his wife’s sudden death, and he says he wants answers.

Toxicologist Dr. Hildegarde Staninger believes Tom can find those answers in his wife’s recently-released autopsy report.

The Riverside County Coroner’s report says Fatima died from broncho-pneumonia.

It also shows unusually high levels of compounds including Barium, which is a potentially lethal metal element.

“It’s 2.2 times higher than a workplace exposure, which is very important because this is her home and she’s breathing something that shouldn’t be there,” Staninger said.

Fatima didn’t work with barium, and Tom says she was overall a healthy woman.

But he says she had been gardening just before she got sick. And Tom says — like others residents in the development — that it was common to dig up all kinds of plastic materials in their yard.

The State Department of Toxic Substances so far has refused to come test the soil.

But Staninger, who has been hired by the law firm to evaluate people living in the Autumnwood development, is convinced Fatima died of prolonged exposure to a combination of toxic chemicals in her home.

He says that other residents with similar symptoms are suffering the same.

“Their pneumonia is being caused by exposure to chemicals. It’s a chemical cocktail — we used to call it witches brew,” Staninger said.

Tom tried to return home a few weeks ago, but had to leave when he got sick and broke out in a rash.

“I was married a week, Kaylie was 3 weeks old. Come on somebody do something,” he pleaded.

“What happens if it happens to somebody else in the neighborhood? Then what are they going to do? What excuses are they going to have then?” he asked.

Fatima’s autopsy results have been sent to the DTSC.

All residents will be tested for barium now and the results will be compared with levels found in Fatima.

State officials met with the Mayor of Wildomar Monday after dozens of families complained their homes were making them sick.