LA QUINTA – One valley school will soon be tested for toxic chemicals. Recent tests showed La Quinta High School has “elevated levels” of a chemical often found in industrial sites. The same thing is true for Valley View Elementary School in Coachella.
While scientists say there is no immediate danger to students, teachers or staff, there is a hurry to find out the cause.
Newer refrigerators use coolant far friendlier to the environment than older models. Carbon Tetrachloride was used as a refrigerant. It is a toxic chemical, known as a volatile organic compound.
Dr. Patrick Breysse at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland says, “The Valley View elementary and La Quinta High School both had slightly elevated carbon tetrachloride. Carbon tetrachloride is an industrial solvent that’s not used very much anymore. The air monitoring didn’t detect there was anything too excessive. But it was a curious finding nonetheless.”
Desert Sands Unified says they weren’t informed of the tests near La Quinta High. They found out by reading the USA Today. The newspaper teamed up with researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland for the testing.
Now the school districts are finding themselves playing catch-up.
“The district is concerned because we had a school site listed so it was important that we look into that and we’re going to have an engineer go out and do their own testing,” said Desert Sands Unified Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Cindy McDaniel.
Environmental consulting firm Clark Seif Clark, Inc. will begin testing La Quinta High this week. Coachella Valley Unified have not yet announced its plans to confront the elevated chemical levels
What’s causing this airborne chemical leak at both schools is a mystery. The tests were done just outside the school grounds. Houses surround La Quinta High School. There are a few empty storage drums across the street and natural gas lines nearby but no obvious signs of chemical leaks.
McDaniel added, “We’re at the 98th percentile of having the best air quality at all the schools that were tested. But that doesn’t mean we’re not taking this to heart and that we will be studying it further.”