Soil Contaminants

Toxins Levels Found in the Soil at Malibu High School in 2010:

PCB Araclor 1254: 1420 ug/kg (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 89ug/kg)

Toluene: 1.1mg/l to 4.3mg/l

Benzene: exceeded residential CHHSL

DDE: 361ug/kg

DDT: 46.7ug/kg

Alpha Chlordane: 683 ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Gamma Chlordane: 305ug/kg    (screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Technical Chlordane: 1910ug/kg    (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 430ug/kg)

Lead: 304mg/kg   (exceeded screening level CHHSL of 80mg/kg)

Arsenic: 10.6mg/kg

Cadmium: 4.77mg/kg


Pesticides affected 200 square feet of soil (22 yards) and PCBs affect 16,000 square feet of soil (1180 yards).

Residential exposures screening levels were used based on DTSC guidance 1999 with the most sensitive exposures.

(source Removal Action Workplan 8-5-10 pg 10-15)

Click Here to See Full Arcadis Action Workplan Aug 5, 2010 

Click Here to See Chemical Descriptions from Arcadis Report Appendix A


DDT was extensively used in the past for the control of malaria, typhus, and other insect-transmitted diseases. It was banned for use in the United States in 1972, except in the case of a public health emergency.

Acute oral exposure to high doses of DDT in humans results in CNS effects, such as headaches, nausea, and convulsions. The science on DDT’s human health impacts has continued to mount over the years, with recent studies showing harm at very low levels of exposure. Studies show a range of human health effects linked to DDT and its breakdown product, DDE:

  • breast & other cancers
  • male infertility
  • miscarriages & low birth weight
  • developmental delay
  • nervous system & liver damage


DDE is a breakdown product of DDT and has no uses.

DDE has been listed as a pollutant of concern to EPA’s Great Waters Program due to its persistence in the environment, potential to bioaccumulate, and toxicity to humans and the environment.


Exposure to chlordane occurs from its past use as a pesticide.

Chlordane was used in the United States from 1948 to 1978 as a pesticide on agricultural crops, lawns, and gardens and as a fumigating agent. In 1978, EPA canceled the use of chlordane on food crops and phased out other above-ground uses for the next 5 years. From 1983 to 1988, chlordane’s only approved use was to control termites in homes. The pesticide was applied underground around the foundation of homes. In 1988, all approved uses of chlordane in the United States were terminated; however, manufacture for export still continues. Chlordane is a persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutant targeted by EPA.

Chlordane is an OSHA Select carcinogen


Arsenic occurs naturally in soil and minerals and it therefore may enter the air, water, and land from wind-blown dust and may get into water from runoff and leaching. Arsenic cannot be destroyed in the environment. It can only change its form, or become attached to or separated from particles. Arsine is a gas consisting of arsenic and hydrogen. Arsine gas is extremely toxic to humans, with headaches, vomiting, and abdominal pains occurring within a few hours of exposure.

In the past, inorganic arsenic compounds were predominantly used as pesticides, primarily on cotton fields and in orchards. Inorganic arsenic compounds can no longer be used in agriculture. The greatest use of arsenic in alloys is in lead-acid batteries for automobiles. Presently, about 90% of all arsenic produced is used as a preservative for wood to make it resistant to rotting and decay.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and EPA also has classified inorganic arsenic as a known human carcinogen.


Lead poisoning affects nearly every system in the body, and often occurs without noticeable symptoms. Although lead can affect adults, children under the age of six are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead. Low but chronic exposure can affect the developing nervous system in subtle but persistent ways. In children, blood lead levels as low as 10 to 15 μg/dL can stunt growth rates, affect attention span, cause learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, impair hearing acuity, and cause behavioral problems.

CDC lowered the level at which it recommends medical atten­tion, also known as the “blood lead intervention level,” on three separate occasions. After research showed that cognitive and developmental damage occurs at blood lead levels as low as 10 μg/dL, CDC lowered the blood lead level of concern to the cur- rent 10 μg/dL value in 1991. There is no known safe level of lead in blood.

The EPA has classified lead and inorganic lead compounds as “probable human carcinogens.”


Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities.

Benzene is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States. It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. In the past it was also commonly used as an industrial solvent (a substance that can dissolve or extract other substances) and as a gasoline additive, but these uses have been greatly reduced in recent decades.

Benzene is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals.


Toluene is added to gasoline, used to produce benzene, and used as a solvent. Exposure to toluene may occur from breathing ambient or indoor air affected by such sources. The central nervous system (CNS) is the primary target organ for toluene toxicity in both humans and animals for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures. CNS dysfunction and narcosis have been frequently observed in humans acutely exposed to elevated airborne levels of toluene; symptoms include fatigue, sleepiness, headaches, and nausea.

Chronic inhalation exposure of humans to toluene also causes irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, and headache. Human studies have reported developmental effects, such as CNS dysfunction, attention deficits, and minor craniofacial and limb anomalies, in the children of pregnant women exposed to high levels of toluene or mixed solvents by inhalation. EPA has concluded that that there is inadequate information to assess the carcinogenic potential of toluene.


Cadmium is a natural element in the earth’s crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), chlorine (cadmium chloride), or sulfur (cadmium sulfate, cadmium sulfide).

Cadmium and its compounds are highly toxic and exposure to this metal is known to cause cancer and targets the body’s cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that cadmium is carcinogenic to humans.



(while not found MHS soil, it is in MHS)

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. Because of its fiber strength and heat resistance it has been used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Asbestos has been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials

Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing material during product use, demolition work, building or home maintenance, repair, and remodeling. In general, exposure may occur only when the asbestos-containing material is disturbed or damaged in some way to release particles and fibers into the air.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen. Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are:

  1. lung cancer
  2. mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the    abdomen and heart
  3. asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs