AMERICA UNITES FOR KIDS vs. SANTA MONICA MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

UCLA STUDY FINDS HIGHER DISEASE RATES IN PCB CONTAMINATED MALIBU SCHOOLS

by Barry Fagan
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UCLA just released an study which was conducted by Honor Collegium students at UCLA under the supervision of Alison Lipman, Ph.D. that found a “higher than average persistence of PCB-related diseases in individuals working at” PCB contaminated public schools in Malibu.

The study found a significantly higher prevalence of thyroid and Hashimoto’s disease at the Malibu schools compared to rates in the United States.

The study also found significantly higher rates of thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and fertility issues compared with a control population at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village.

Here is what Professor Allison Lipman, Ph.D. had to say about the study:

“I am proud that these students conducted such a rigorous and well-researched study. I hope their work will be built upon in Malibu, and across the U.S. to protect teachers and students that are in PCB contaminated schools.”

Over 50 PCB-related illnesses have been reported to us among people who have worked at or attended these schools in Malibu. But this report confirms what we already know -- Illegal PCBs at the Malibu Schools and JCES are causing serious harm to the health of those who occupy them. But what this study does show is that the School District and their consultants are misinforming the parents and teachers about their safety.

In an attempt to placate the Malibu parents and teachers, the School District has come up with a windows, doors, floors and paint project (WDFP) that they claim is "not" because of the PCBs. But their report for building F that is in the JCES office says "PCB-related remediation for building F of JCES." The district seems a little confused in their messaging.

They say they will still not test the caulking but instead just assume all the caulk has PCBs and dispose of it as such. The problem with this WDFP project is that it will not address all the pre-1979 buildings and therefore not address all the PCB contamination. Doors or windows in a pre-1979 building that have been replaced in the past 25 years will not be PCB tested and will not be PCB remediated, even when PCBs have been found in the same building.

Window replacement is not proper PCB remediation as demonstrated in NYC's PS199 (public school 199) where they replaced all the windows but did not remediate and in just a few years, PCBs migrated contaminating the new caulk and causing exposure to kids and teachers.

Results

The binomial test found a significantly higher prevalence of thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s disease at Malibu schools, compared to published background rates in the US. The study reported five cases of thyroid cancer at Malibu schools, compared to less than one case expected (p = 3.175 x 10-14), and eight cases of Hashimoto’s disease at Malibu schools, compared to less than one case expected (p = 1.34 x 10-12). No significantly enriched diseases were found at OCS.

The Fisher's exact test comparing disease rates between Malibu schools and OCS found significant enrichment at the Malibu schools, in thyroid disease (16 incidences at Malibu compared to zero incidences at OCS) (p = 2.110 x 10-4), Hashimoto’s disease (eight incidences at Malibu compared to zero at OCS) (p = 0.0216), and fertility issues (seven incidences at Malibu compared to zero at OCS) (p = 0.0362); while thyroid cancer (five incidences at Malibu compared to zero at OCS) (p = 0.0983) showed marginal significance. No significance was found when comparing building location or length of exposure with disease

occurrence.

Methods

The study tested whether the detected occurrence of PCBs at Malibu schools correlate with increased incidences of PCB-related diseases, and thus are putatively causing diseases in staff members working at the schools. It tested the hypothesis that there would be a higher than average persistence of PCB-related diseases in individuals working at these schools.

The study analyzed enrichments in the incidence of PCB-related diseases in staff members at the Malibu schools. In order to test our hypothesis, teachers at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, Malibu Middle School and Malibu High School were administered an online survey (n = 146). The survey collected information on the prevalence and severity of PCB-related diseases, along with work hours, and work-site specific information, such as buildings that the teachers work in. In order to draw a comparison, teachers at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, built after the PCB ban, were administered the same survey as a negative control (n= 195). The study used binomial tests to assess increased prevalence of PCB-related diseases at the Malibu schools and Oaks Christian from responses (nMalibu= 41; nOaks= 23). Then a Fisher’s exact test was used to identify enrichment in disease prevalence in Malibu schools compared to Oaks Christian disease rates.

Its time to end this uncertainty and get these children and teachers into classrooms that do not contain illegal levels of PCBs.

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Written by:

Barry Fagan
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