California School Launches Investigation into Teachers’ Cancer Diagnoses

Toxic substance lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that officials at Malibu High School in California recently opened an investigation into the alarming prevalence of cancer and other severe health issues among its staff. Teachers are voicing their concerns that the health problems are being caused by toxins on campus.

Three teachers at Malibu High School have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer over the past six months, and one more was just diagnosed with bladder cancer. At least 21 other teachers are concerned that their various health problems are related – their ailments include constant migraines, hair loss, skin rashes, and respiratory problems.

In 2010, a contractor went into the middle school portion of the school (Malibu High educates grades 6 through 12) to remove soil, which contained carcinogenic PCBs, pesticides, and lead. The ailing teachers, all of whom work in the theatre, visual arts, music & drama, or main school buildings, now are asking the district to test their buildings for mold, asbestos, and other toxins.

The superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District reported that they did hire an environmental testing company that is in the midst of testing the campus and interviewing teachers. Many are also questioning the toxicity of the soil underneath and outside the school buildings.

The director of the Environmental Cancer Research Center told ABC News that the environment, in its broadest sense, is responsible for between 60 and 90% of all cancers. This may sound surprising to some, though increasingly obvious to others.

Take for example asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral, and its relation to mesothelioma and lung cancer. We have known – at least, the public has known – about the carcinogenic nature of asbestos since the mid-1960s. Companies that manufactured asbestos-containing materials, however, knew that it caused debilitating and fatal illnesses as early as the 1930s.

Another example would be the recent developments in Superior, Montana, where one woman almost singlehandedly qualified a former iron mine for federal EPA Superfund assistance. The woman, Robin Dent, spent ten years on the fight to clean up the Iron Mountain Mine and the adjacent Flat Creek, ultimately gaining about $4 million in federal assistance and a listing on the National Priorities List.

The Iron Mountain Mine is owned by Asarco and is releasing toxic amounts of arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals into Flat Creek, threatening the town’s water supply and community land. Superior High School even purposefully built its running track with residue materials from the mine, because it packed well and plants could not grow through it. Other residents would unwittingly use mine materials to line paths and driveways.

Dent moved to the quiet Montana town when she was 11 and went to Superior High School. She used to cheerlead on that track, and told reporters that her and her classmates’ legs would itch after every practice and they never knew why. In 1999, Flat Creek flooded, running red, and killing Dent’s family ducks. Later that year, Dent’s mother was diagnosed with leukemia and died four days after; Robin is convinced her cancer is related to the decrepit, toxic mine.

Then, in 2000, wildfires blazed through Superior and destroyed Dent’s water pumps. When she was replacing them, the U.S. Forest Service told her the creek water contained extremely dangerous levels of heavy metal. She contacted state and federal officials, and in 2002, the EPA arrived.

Dent ultimately sued Asarco on behalf of her mother, for wrongful death and contaminating public property, and received a large settlement. The EPA is now looking into about 500 properties in Superior and examining Flat Creek to determine contamination challenges. Cleanup work is expected to take about five years.

Toxic substance lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience working on these types of cases. We have won millions of compensation for our clients, many of whom have suffered permanent injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals, such as lead, benzene, asbestos, or vinyl chloride. If you or a loved one was exposed to and seriously sickened by a toxic substance at work, contact our firm today for a free legal consultation.


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