Toxic Susbtance Prompts SMMUSD Lawsuit

MALIBU—The parent group America Unites for Kids and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has filed a lawsuit against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The lawsuit claims that the district is violating the Toxic Substance Controls Act by neglecting to remove caulk containing elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), a banned toxin that is known to damage the immune system and is widely considered a carcinogen.

Concerns over PCB contamination have prompted some parents to pull their children from Malibu High School.

The district has maintained that it is not in violation of the Toxic Substance Controls Act, a claim supported by a hired environmental consultant that found toxicity levels to be below legal levels.

Over time, PCB can flake and break-off from windows and door frames, contaminating the surrounding air and dust. This  has made PCB contamination a growing concern for parents of children occupying older school structures.

At Malibu High School, concern over PCB contamination has become so heighten that some parents have decided to remove their children from the school.

A precedent that may help the two sides resolve the dispute can be found in a 2013 case in which an agreement was made between New York City and the New York Lawyers for Public Interest to remove PCB-contaminated light fixtures from 645 schools.