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Judge To Decide Malibu Schools Toxic Chemicals Case

MALIBU ( — A Los Angeles federal judge today Tuesday took under submission a citizen lawsuit over toxic chemicals found at Malibu schools.

The Malibu-based parents and teachers group America Unites for Kids and Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sued the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, alleging the district is violating federal law by using construction materials containing polychlorinated biphenyls -- PCBs.

After a 10-minute hearing, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said he would issue a written ruling or hold a July 11 hearing if needed.

PCBs were found in Malibu schools more than 2 and-a-half years ago when the district tested window caulking after three teachers were diagnosed with thyroid cancer within months of one another.

The suit seeks no monetary damages -- only an order to remove the chemical.

A citizen suit is a lawsuit brought by private citizens to enforce a statue when enforcement agencies do not.

PCBs were commonly used in construction materials until they were banned by the federal government in 1976.

"We want parents to be armed with the facts to make sure they understand the deadly risk of PCBs and are able to protect their children," said Malibu parent Jennifer deNicola, president of America Unites for Kids.

"Everyone claims they don't want to put kids at risk, yet what happened in Flint is what's happening in our schools: kids are being poisoned because government officials are unwilling to do their jobs," she said.

Supermodel Cindy Crawford has been a part of the parents' fight. She and husband removed her own two kids from Malibu High School.

"Let's get (PCBs) out so there is zero percent chance somebody's going to be harmed by them," Crawford said.

Actor Josh Malina has also been involved.

"In our wildest dreams we never imagined that two and-a-half years later we would see the situation essentially unchanged," he said.

The school district has countered that it is safe to leave the PCBs in place and that it can protect students and teachers by wiping the surfaces with wet rags until future renovations.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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