As the first day of school approaches, EPA officials issued a letter dated Aug.14 formally validating the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s environmental testing program, noting that, “The District is meeting EPA national guidelines to protect public health from PCBs in schools by addressing the human exposure pathways of greatest concern, namely air, dust and soil.”
The letter also addressed questions from District officials about the need for additional testing, especially in light of recent offers by celebrity parents to pay for the testing.
“EPA does not recommend additional testing of caulk unless dust or air samples persistently fail to meet EPA’s health-based guidelines,” the letter said.
The letter also noted, “The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) does not require schools or building owners to test caulk for PCBs.”
To date, results for the District’s intensive environmental testing program conducted over the summer have found that Malibu High and Juan Cabrillo Elementary buildings are safe for students and staff.
That determination is based on EPA benchmarks. Air and dust samples have consistently shown PCB levels that are either not detected or well below EPA health benchmarks.
The District has not re-opened two rooms – a woodshop room and the psychologist’s office – where PCB levels in dust samples exceeded EPA benchmarks.
SMMUSD is working, in coordination with the EPA, to clean and re-test those three rooms.
EPA officials also formally concurred with, and agreed to provide oversight of, the District’s plan to remove caulk identified above regulatory thresholds and light fixtures previously found to contain PCBs, even though dust and air samples have not indicated a health risk.
The District submitted to EPA a voluntary proposal that will remove the caulk from four locations at MHS by June 30, 2015.
These locations previously tested above 50 ppm.
The District will also take out light fixtures associated with previously removed PCB-containing ballasts at MHS and Juan Cabrillo Elementary (JCES), within a year. This work will ensure the District remains in compliance with TSCA.
To make certain the buildings continue to be safe, additional data will be collected around the school’s winter break in the 2014/2015 school year, and at the end of the 2015 school year, prior to the next annual summer cleaning. This data, along with data from this summer, will aid in determining future monitoring recommendations.
As a result of the scientific process, the District has re-opened all buildings on both campuses, with the exception of the two rooms previously noted, allowing teachers to prepare their classrooms for the start of school. Testing results for each building can be found by clicking the appropriate link/building name.
August 13 – Malibu High School, Classroom Building D
August 11 – Juan Cabrillo Elementary, Classroom Building C
July 28 — Malibu High School, Library (Building A)
July 18 — Malibu High School, Old Gym (Building J)
For additional information about ENVIRON’s work with the school district, including weekly reports it provides, click here.