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Malibu Teachers Worry Campus Construction Is Giving Them Cancer

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Malibu Middle and High School teachers say they're worried their campus could be making them sick.One third of teachers have complained that they've been suffering from a host of problems, and they believe moldy classrooms and recent construction on campus could be the culprit, according to City News Service. Twenty out of 60 teachers on campus sent a letter to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District addressing their complaints.

Three teachers have been diagnosed with stage-one thyroid cancer in the last six months, and three are being treated for thyroid gland problems. Others say they've recently been suffering from bladder cancer, persistent migraine headaches, unexplained hair loss, skin rashes and respiratory illness.

The affected teachers all spent long periods of time in a few of the older buildings on campus: the main middle school building, the music and drama building and the school theater, according to the Malibu Times.

During the summer vacation of 2011, there was an operation to remove the top three feet of soil near some of these buildings that were contaminated by carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead and pesticides. The hazmat-style operation was preparation for a $30 million reconstruction project.

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Superintendent Sandra Lyon sent out a memo on Friday saying that the district hired "a highly qualified environmental consulting firm to investigate these concerns and to recommend corrective action, should any be identified." Testing of the air and soil by consultants Executive Environmental began on September 20.

Parents aren't happy that they're finding out about the testing weeks later. Seth Jacobson, a school site council member whose son attends the middle school, brought the issue up at a board meeting Thursday night. He told the Malibu Times, "We should have known about it, the district should have told us about it. It's serious business."

Lyon told CNS that the district is taking the teachers' concerns seriously but said parents shouldn't worry about the classrooms any more than they should about their own homes, "We know [the classrooms] are safe, just as much as you know that your house is safe. As far as we know, those rooms are safe."

There are 1,120 students at the combined middle school and high school that overlooks Zuma Beach.