As we recently reported in a previous post, a coalition of concerned parents, teachers, community members, scientists, experts, public figures and environmental groups from across the U.S., collectively called Malibu Unites, has been fighting to get toxins out of local Malibu schools. Now in a follow up, supermodel Cindy Crawford has taken the coalition in a national direction, speaking with NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver about Malibu Unites’ effort to get Congress to require all schools built from the 1950s through the 1970s to test for toxic PCBs in substances like window caulking. Crawford, just one concerned parent of many, has been keeping her two teens home instead of sending them to school after finding out that the schools contain elevated levels of a cancer-causing chemical. In a segment that aired on Today, Crawford notes, “I look 10 years down the line. What if my kid, God forbid, had a problem? How could I live with myself, if I knew that it was a possibility, and I still sent them to school there?” See Cindy Crawford speak on the issue after the jump.
Of main concern in the schools are high levels of PCBs, a chemical banned in 1976. However, PCBs stick around unless old buildings are remodeled and well cleaned. PCBs also easily leach into dirt, dust and air surrounding older buildings. Dr. Leonard Trasande, a public health expert at New York University’s School of Medicine, tells NBC, “PCBs disrupt the function of hormones in our bodies, especially thyroid hormone. They can contribute to worse brain development in children, and inability of children to perform well in school.” School district officials are planning to remove the contaminated caulking in four rooms at the Malibu schools, plus they have committed to conducting periodic monitoring of air and dust for PCBs in every classroom. Crawford and other parents have said to NBC that this testing is not enough to make them feel secure. Crawford explains, “I don’t feel 100 percent safe. I think that air testing and wipe testings are a great piece of the puzzle. Unless they’re testing every day, how do I know that every day it’s safe for my kid?” Trasande says that for the long-term, the only way to be sure schools are clean of toxins is to entirely, “eradicate the PCBs from building materials.” Let’s hope Congress catches on soon, and changes the laws surrounding PCBs, because not all parents have the luxury of keeping their kids out of school for extended periods of time.
Lead image via Today on NBC