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Parents and Teachers Rally Against School District Over Toxic Levels of PCBs in Classrooms

pcbs-in-schoolsClass is back in session at California schools in Malibu, but not all students will be there when the bell rings. Parents, including the high-profile supermodel Cindy Crawford, have been rallying over toxic contamination on school campuses for the past few weeks. While the school district and parents battle it out, more than 25 parents are sending their children to other schools.

Three Malibu schools—Malibu middle and high schools and Juan Cabrillo elementary—are currently under fire for the possible presence of cancer-causing PCBs. Although the school district claims the campuses are safe, parents aren’t convinced and are demanded further testing, particularly of the classrooms built before 1979.

PCBs (scientifically known as polychlorinated biphenyl) are chemicals previously used in caulk and insulating materials. Congress banned PCB production in 1979 due to its environmental toxicity and cancer-causing effects. PCBs can also have serious effects on the immune, reproductive, and endocrine systems. Exposure to PCBs can disrupt the function of hormones in bodies and can contribute to negative brain development in children, as well as the inability to perform well in school.

Just last year, teachers at Malibu schools claimed they were suffering health issues. Among them, three were diagnosed with thyroid cancer within the past six months and believed it was the result of PCBs in the classrooms. Upon testing, the district found illegal levels of PCBs in more than five classrooms at the high school and middle school and promised to clean up the schools and re-test to ensure the campuses were safe for students to return in the fall.

64638521But a promise to clean up wasn’t enough to ease parents’ concerns. When PEER, a public employee advocacy group, conducted independent testing, it shared with Malibu parents the horrifying results, one of which revealed that classrooms surpassed the legal limit for PCB exposure by more than a thousand times. PEER’s testing also showed that the caulk in classrooms particularly needed to be fixed.

As a result of PEER’s testing and public results, parents demanded the school district do more, including further testing and remediation of toxic materials. Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber even offered to pay for testing and caulk remediation, but the school district didn’t accept her offer. Crawford has since kept her two teenagers at home from school.

In an official statement released to NBC, Malibu school officials claimed that its schools are safe for students and employees, based on federal EPA standards. The EPA agreed with the district and stated it does not recommend any additional caulk testing.

This answer isn’t good enough for parents concerned with the safety and health of their children.

Crawford publicized her concerns on the TODAY show, saying, “I look 10 years down the line. What if my kid, God forbid, had a problem? How could I live with myself, if I thought that it was a possibility, and I still sent them to school there? I don’t feel 100 percent safe.”

Crawford continued, explaining that the issue extends beyond the confines of Malibu and California. Currently, federal law does not require school administrators to test for chemicals. Crawford believes these laws should be changed to require every school across the country built between 1950 and 1979 to be tested for PCBs, as thousands of teachers and students could be at risk.

Orange Restoration is committed to safe environments.  If you have any concerns about toxic elements in your home or workplace, our biohazard removal specialists are available to help.

By |August 28th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Half a Million Displaced by Floods in Bangladesh

Over half a million people have been left homeless after rushing floodwaters devastated villages in rural areas of northern Bangladesh over the weekend.

Bangladesh is a low lying country that has densely populated rural areas. Heavy monsoon rains have caused flash floods for over a week now but a new weather front caused unaffected areas to be flooded over the past few days. According to government officials in Bangladesh, no one has died in the flooding so far.

Weather specialists at the Dhaka Flood Forecasting and Warning Center explained how two of the main rivers in Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra and Meghna, have continued to rise higher than expected, causing residents of 14 districts scrambling to find higher ground.

flooding-bangladeshSazzad Hossain, an engineer at the warning center said that heavy rains in India are causing the main rivers to continue to rise. He went on to add that he suspected the flooding to get much worse over the next few days. The government has already made plans to distribute food and water to displaced people according to Iftekharul Islam, the director of the Department of Disaster Management. Islam assured residents that schools and other government buildings are being used as temporary shelters and that all districts were prepared for such a disaster and have enough emergency supplies to go around.

Several American charities working in the flooded areas reported that many households have no access to clean water and have lost their entire crop of rice, the main source of food and income for people living in the northern area of Bangladesh.

Farmers are scrambling to find ways to provide for their families. Shahin Howlader, a farmer from the Rangpur district who was seeking shelter in a neighborhood school, was devastated with the loss of his home and rice fields. He also lost several cows and was worried about how he would be able to feed his family for the rest of the year.

The monsoon season is a regular occurrence in Bangladesh and floods and landslides are common, especially in the northern part of the country. Melting snow from the Himalayas already swell the countries river, so when monsoons hit it can be a catastrophic combination. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from rushing flood waters and other weather disasters since 1971. Disaster response experts have praised Bangladesh over the past few years for their disaster preparedness, and deaths caused by these inclement weather events have declined significantly since 2005.

By |August 25th, 2014|News|0 Comments

India and Nepal Experiencing Severe Flooding

India and Nepal have experienced extreme flooding the past three days caused by heavy rainfall. Relief teams were deployed with medicine, food, and emergency shelters, however the death toll has already reached 180 by Monday morning. Northern India and western Nepal were the areas hit the worst as rushing floodwaters washed away dwellings made of natural materials like mud and straw.

Flooding severely damaged many roads in western Nepal so several helicopters were deployed to bring in supplies according to Jhanka Dhakal of Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Center. With thousands of people without food and shelter, local officials gave out rice, lentils, and specialized cooking pots to those who lost their homes. Most of these people were poor farmers who do not live in permanent housing.

india-floodsAccording to local authorities, over 100 people have died in Nepal and 84 in India since the flooding started on Thursday. Dams in Nepal were damaged by the flooding which caused the situation to worsen in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The rising waters and continuous rain caused several rivers to breach their banks according to Alok Ranjan, a prominent official from Uttar Pradesh. State officials reported 10 more deaths Sunday night which raised the total dead to 34 since Thursday. 50 more people died in Uttarakhand, another state in northern India, when rivers rushed through their fields and villages. Villagers from the most damaged areas were in the process of being evacuated to temporary relief camps set up in government building Monday morning, Ranjan said.

The Kaziranga National Park, in the Indian state of Assam, was severely flooded, causing animals to cross a major highway to escape to high ground. The Kaziranga National Park is also a wildlife reserve that is currently home to 2,500 of the remaining 3,000 one horned rhinos still alive. M.K. Yadava, the park’s director, said rising water from the Brahmaputra River, which flows along one side of the park, caused 5 feet of water to flood most of the park.

In Nepal, Prime Minster Sushil Koirala reached out to foreign disaster response agencies to assist in helping flood victims. Koirala said the government was in the process of sending medical teams and supplies to prevent diseases commonly caused by flooding such as cholera. They are also passing out food and temporary shelters to all those who have been displaced by the flooding.

Monsoon season typically lasts from June to September and brings regular flooding to Nepal and India. A landslide destroyed an entire village outside of Katmandu earlier this month killing over 150 people.

Luckily we don’t have a monsoon season here in San Diego, however a little rain would be welcome in the state of California during the drought we have been experiencing. Water damage from outdated plumbing systems can lead to severe flooding in your home or business. If you are in need of a San Diego flood cleanup company give Orange Restoration a call 24/7!

By |August 18th, 2014|News|0 Comments

Flash Floods Strike San Diego County

Heavy rains in San Diego caused several flash floods across the northeastern portion of the county this past weekend. The National Weather Service put out a flash flood warning for the Borrego Springs area Sunday evening that lasted until 6:30pm. There was a separate flash flood warning for Ramona that only lasted until 4pm. One road collapsed and several others were completely flooded. Rock and mud slides were also witnessed in the mountain and desert areas of the county.

montezuma-floodCHP officers reported that Montezuma Valley Road was “completely flooded out” and that they had witnessed “debris everywhere” just after 5pm on Sunday. Officers also closed down State Route 78 near Split Mountain Road at 4:30pm after flash floods were reported in the area. Many other roads were also closed including State Route 76 near the Pala Indian Reservation and Route 74 near mile marker 7.8. The rain was so severe that the Ramona fairgrounds were flooded on Sunday afternoon, the final day of the Ramona Junior Fair.

Flash floods are the most common weather emergency in the United States. They can cause mud and rock slides and destroy buildings and bridges. By definition, a flash flood is rapid flooding of low-lying areas in 4 hours or less. This can be caused by intense rainfall, or by the destruction of man-made buildings and structures like dams. There will not always be warning when these flash floods strike so it is a good idea to be prepared for such an event.

san-diego-floodingCome up with a Flood Disaster Plan. Educate yourself about your area’s flood risk and where the highest elevation is around your property. You can call your local Red Cross chapter or the National Weather Service for this useful information. If you are in an area where floods are common give your insurance company a call to make sure your home or business has flood coverage included in your policy. You should also develop a flood evacuation plan in the event that you need to leave quickly. Share all this information with your family or employees so that all parties are on the same page in the event of an emergency.

Dealing with the flood cleanup can be an equally stressful time. No one expects flooding in their home or business but sometimes the unimaginable can happen. Calling an experienced San Diego flood cleanup company is the first step to getting your property back to its original state. Our technicians have the experience and tools necessary to complete any job. If you have experienced flooding and water damage in your home or business give Orange Restoration a call immediately! (619) 376-6838

By |August 4th, 2014|Flood, News|0 Comments