MALIBU, Calif. | PCBs The high school here is ranked among the best in the country, with students each year moving on to Ivy League colleges. The location, on a hill down the block from the beach where “Baywatch” was filmed, offers a multimillion-dollar view of the Pacific Ocean.
Yet parents here have been yanking their children out of Malibu High School, concerned about PCBs, the highly toxic chemical compounds, that have been found in caulking of the school’s windows.
A battle over how to handle the PCBs, which were first discovered three years ago, is now convulsing this famously wealthy beach community, with parents, television stars and a supermodel pitted against one of the most elite public school districts in the country.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District insists that its classrooms are safe; the Environmental Protection Agency agrees.
But not all parents and teachers are convinced: They blame PCBs for an array of maladies, including migraines, thyroid cancer and common colds, and they have sued to compel the district to remove all contaminated caulking. A judge ruled last week that the lawsuit could move forward.
In the meantime, school board meetings have turned chaotic, with parents shouting down district officials and calling them liars.
“The school district is telling us our kids are safe, but that’s what they were telling parents in Flint, Mich.,” said Jennifer deNicola, a mother of an eighth grader and a 10th grader who has spearheaded the push to remove PCBs. “We know there’s a problem, and they refuse to acknowledge it.”
But school and health officials insist that simply because PCBs are in the building materials does not mean the students are at risk of exposure. The school district tests the air in classrooms — the primary medium through which children could be exposed — and cleans regularly to reduce dust from the caulking, school officials said.
“Just because something is present doesn’t mean it can cause harm,” said Doug Daugherty, a managing principal at Ramboll Environ, the environmental consulting firm the district has hired.
The district has already spent millions of dollars on lawyers, environmental consultants and a public-relations campaign.
But, this being Malibu, parents have waged their own media campaign, complete with environmental experts and celebrity advocates. Cindy Crawford, the supermodel, has gone on national television to explain why she pulled her two children from Malibu High, and offered to pay to test caulking for PCBs throughout the campus, which also includes an elementary school and a middle school. (Her offer was declined.)
PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were widely used in building materials and electronics until they were banned in the late 1970s, and they remain in many older buildings. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that the substances could be present in upward of 20,000 schools nationwide. The compounds have been linked to cancer, immune problems and lower I.Q.s among children.
Federal law requires that any building materials found to contain PCBs be removed. But to the chagrin of parents here, there was no requirement to test the caulking in the first place.
Jennifer deNicola, a mother of two who has spearheaded the push to have PCBs removed, with her daughter Sami, 13, whom she is now home-schooling. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
The E.P.A. has endorsed the district’s approach to handling the PCBs in its buildings. And scientists who studied PCBs in New York City schools said this method — of testing air quality and cleaning assiduously — was very effective.
Laurie Lieberman, the president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school board, said the administration had confidence in the safety of its facilities and has been doing its best to reassure parents.
“We have tremendous empathy for people who are fearful and scared,” Ms. Lieberman said. “We’ve really tried to explain why the schools are safe now.”
Malibu parents have a history of skepticism about official health advice, including routine childhood vaccinations: At some local elementary schools in 2014, fewer than 60 percent of kindergarten students had received the full lineup of recommended vaccines, far below the state average.
In this case, the distrust on both sides became plain last fall, when supporters of caulking removal secretly took their own samples from classrooms and had them independently tested. Ms. deNicola announced that the results showed extraordinarily high levels of PCBs. The school district asked the sheriff’s office to investigate her for trespassing and vandalism.
The battle now threatens to tear apart the school district: Concern over PCBs has fueled an existing effort here to break away from Santa Monica so that Malibu can be in control of its own schools.
Beth Lucas, a parent, pulled her son, Christian, out of Malibu High after their endocrinologist said it was especially dangerous for him to remain there. Christian, now 17, had a malignant brain tumor at age 6, and the radiation used to treat it left him with a diminished immune system and thus more vulnerable to the effects of PCBs, the doctor told the family.
“We moved to Malibu for the schools, so it has been a big slap in the face to have the school district treat the parents and teachers and children so poorly,” Ms. Lucas said. She is also considering removing her daughter, who is in middle school, at the end of the year, but worried about the cost of private school.
“Yes, we live in this nice house,” she said, sitting on a hilltop porch that overlooked a wide expanse of ocean. “I don’t want to have to sell my house and leave Malibu. The district has put us in a horrible position.”
Currently, only one of the seven school board members represents Malibu. He supports replacing the caulking, but has been voted down by board members who live in Santa Monica.
“I think the board members have convinced themselves that the science is right and the parents are overreacting,” said Craig Foster, Malibu’s representative on the school board, and the father of a seventh grader at the middle school here. “But what if in five years it turns out testing the air and dust wasn’t enough? How do you sleep?”
Some other school districts across the country have acted more aggressively, often at the E.P.A.’s behest, to remove the source of PCBs. Parents here point to Clark Elementary School in Hartford as an example of a school district that handled matters responsibly: In that case, an entire school building was closed — and may be abandoned — because of PCB contamination.
But testing at Clark Elementary indicated elevated levels of PCBs in the air, whereas testing at Malibu High has not, E.P.A. officials said.
Jim Jones, an assistant administrator at the E.P.A., said the agency worked with schools to “get below the risk threshold using the best management practices.”
“We’re always trying to find what’s a cheaper way,” Mr. Jones said, adding that the caulking at Malibu High would all be replaced within several years as part of planned renovations. For now, he said, cleaning and ventilation are “far less costly than removal.”
SB 655 CA Mold Law Industry Panel
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
LOCATION: Armstrong Hall, 2400 N. Canal, Orange, CA 92865
REGISTRATION for SB 655 CA Mold Law
Please send checks, addressed to:
LA/Orange County Indoor Air Quality Association,
Attn: Bill Bohning, Encorp,
16700 Valley View Ave # 100,
La Mirada, CA 90638.
IAQA Members: $50
Non-members: $65 Checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discovery are accepted prior to conference.
Payment less than 10 days before event will be $60.00-IAQA/ASHRAE Members, $75.00 Non-IAQA/ASHRAE Members
Earn four (4) renewal credits from ACAC with documented attendance for this workshop.
SB 655 CA Mold Law Join Landlords, Owners, Property Management Professionals, Consultants, Regulators and Code Enforcement as they come together to present information on SB655 and what effects it will have on the rental community. Speakers include:
• Alan Johnanns – California Healthy Housing Coalition
• Amanda Jaeger – Code Compliance Officer – City of Santee
• Ed Cross – Attorney – Edward H Cross & Associates, PC
• Bruce White – Vice President – American Environmental Specialists
Breakfast, coffee, juices will be available at the event. For more information contact Bruce White at firstname.lastname@example.org
15% of the proceeds will be donated to Got Your Back, fighting childhood hunger. For more information you can access their website at www.gotyourbacksd.org.
SB 655 CA Mold Law
improving indoor air quality for everyone
IAQA’s membership is made up of individuals and companies, including contractors, consultants, facility maintenance professionals, industry vendors, school officials, and representatives from state and federal government agencies. You’ll have access to a full-time professional staff at IAQA Headquarters that often assists members with special projects and problems. IAQA membership dues are remarkably affordable and include an enormous array of benefits.
IAQA courses, chapter workshops, online classes, webinars and the annual meeting typically qualify for continuing education credits towards certification renewal by industry certifying bodies. With IAQA membership, you can fulfill virtually all of your continuing educational requirements.
Since the well began leaking Oct. 23, thousands of people in the Porter Ranch area say they have suffered headaches, nosebleeds, nausea and other symptoms from the escaping gas. The smell comes from an additive called mercaptan that is used to warn people of leaking natural gas, which is ordinarily odorless.
Southern California Gas Co. is paying to relocate those who say they are being sickened.
On Oct. 23, gas company employees noticed a leak out of the ground near a well called SS-25. It was late afternoon, so they decided to come back in the morning to fix it.
The next day, however, their efforts were unsuccessful. Gas was now billowing downhill into Porter Ranch, an upscale community on the northern edge of the San Fernando Valley. Customers were beginning to complain about the smell.
Gas leaks are not uncommon, and it took a couple weeks for this one to become news. When Anderle heard about it, in early November, she pulled up the well record on a state website. The file dates back to when the well was drilled in 1953. As she looked it over, she zeroed in on a piece of equipment 8,451 feet underground called a sub-surface safety valve.
If it were working properly, the gas company would be able to shut down the well. The fact that SoCalGas hadn’t meant, to her, that it must be broken. The records indicated that it had not been inspected since 1976.
SS-25 was cemented only from the bottom up to a depth of 6,600 feet. The rest — more than a mile of steel pipe — was left exposed to the rock formation. At the top, the 7-inch casing is surrounded by an 11¾-inch surface casing, which is cemented to the rock. But a new well also would have a layer of cement between those casings to provide greater strength and protection from corrosion.
Gas is now leaking through a hole in the 7-inch casing at 470 feet down to the bottom of the outer casing at 990 feet, and out through the rock to the surface.
The corporate culture of SoCalGas is nothing if not deliberate. And so, in 2014, the company proposed a methodical effort to check each well for corrosion. It would take about seven years and cost tens of millions of dollars. The plan was part of a request to the Public Utilities Commission to increase customers’ monthly gas bills by 5.5 percent. The alternative was to fix leaks only as they occurred, which one executive warned could be dangerous and lead to “major situational or media incidents.”
The SoCalGas plan went well beyond the requirements imposed by the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermic Resources, or DOGGR. Steve Bohlen, the outgoing head of DOGGR, has said several times that it does not appear that Southern California Gas violated any regulations.
Gas has now been spewing out of the ground at Aliso Canyon for two months. The gas company expects it to continue for up to another three months. Methane is a potent contributor to climate change. By one estimate, the leak is producing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the tailpipes of 2.3 million cars.
The Aliso Canyon leak has increased the state’s methane emissions by 21 percent. As of now, 2.3 percent of the state’s entire carbon footprint is coming from one hole in the ground above Porter Ranch.
“This is an environmental disaster,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who stopped by Porter Ranch Community School in November, just before flying to Paris for the United Nations climate change conference. “It’s devastating. It makes you question the long-term sustainability of a carbon-based power system.”
The local impact also has been severe. About 30,000 people live in Porter Ranch, a bedroom community of gated developments with 4,000-square-foot homes that sell for $1 million or more. The neighborhood offers good schools, clean air and a sense of security. All of that has been disrupted. Many residents have experienced headaches, nosebleeds, nausea or other symptoms. Some 2,000 families have been moved to hotels or short-term rentals to escape the gas.
is also known as methanethiol and is a harmless but pungent-smelling gas which has been described as having the stench of rotting cabbages or smelly socks.
It is often added to natural gas, which is colourless and odourless, to make it easier to detect.
The gas is an organic substance, made of carbon, hydrogen and sulphur, and is found naturally in living organisms, including the human body where it is a waste product of normal metabolism. It is one of the chemicals responsible for the foul smell of bad breath and flatulence.
People who have eaten asparagus can experience the distinctive smell of mercaptan in their urine within 30 minutes of consuming the vegetable, which contains substances that are quickly broken down to methanethiol. However, not everyone is able to smell mercaptan in their urine as a genetic mutation in some people means they are immune to the odour.
The great advantage of mercaptan for industrial purposes is that it can be detected by most people in extremely small quantities, less than one part per million. This makes it an ideal additive to odourless gases, and, like natural gas, it is flammable.
What benzene is
Benzene is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.
Benzene evaporates into the air very quickly. Its vapor is heavier than air and may sink into low-lying areas.
Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water.
Where benzene is found and how it is used
Benzene is formed from both natural processes and human activities.
Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
Benzene is widely used in the United States. It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.
Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.
How you could be exposed to benzene
Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions.
Indoor air generally contains levels of benzene higher than those in outdoor air. The benzene in indoor air comes from products that contain benzene such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents.
The air around hazardous waste sites or gas stations can contain higher levels of benzene than in other areas.
Benzene leaks from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.
People working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to the highest levels of it.
A major source of benzene exposure is tobacco smoke.
Our certified mold inspector discovered this black mold behind the living room curtains. Black mold happens to grow when water damage is left untreated or never discovered. Time, mold spores, moisture, and a carbon based food source supply these molds the proper ingredients to survive on the wall within this home.Learn how to prevent mold now > > >
The reality is there is no such thing as “toxic molds.” There are some mold species that are “toxigenic,” that is they produce “mycotoxins.” Mycotoxins are metabolites produced by molds that are capable of harming other living organisms. Molds evolved these metabolites as part of their strategy to battle bacteria (and each other). One of the most famous of these mycotoxins. . . . . . Read more > > > http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/blair-king/toxic-mold-truth_b_8469358.html
Picture – Black mold behind the surface of a wall – Santa Monica, CA
Check out the Fungi in Tarzana, CA. These molds/toad stools/fungi were found in some damp soil below a home. The exhaust for the dryer had detached and began pumping lint and moisture within the crawlspace. By increasing relative humidity in a small area fungi, molds, critters, and bugs can thrive.