A cancer-causing chemical was found in at least five eastern San Diego County high schools, though there is no evidence the chemical poses an immediate risk, school officials said.
The Grossmont Union High School District found the carcinogen 1,3-butadiene, the main component of synthetic rubber, in the soil near the school. Breathing high levels of butadiene for even a short time can cause central-nervous-system damage, blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, headache and decreased blood pressure. It can also make someone lose consciousness.
Officials plan to send letters out on Friday notifying parents and workers.
The schools are Granite Hills, El Cajon Valley and Grossmont high schools in El Cajon; Monte Vista High in Spring Valley and Helix High in La Mesa.
Superintendent Robert Collins said no schools were closed because there is no evidence the chemical is airborne.
"We are doing continuing testing on these campuses to determine the extent of it," Collins said.
Arsenic, another carcinogen, was also found at Granite Hills, possibly because of past agricultural use of the site.
"I don't know why we are just being notified," Granite Hills High School parent Greg Synder said. "If it's been a concern for a while, why haven't they told anybody?"
Collins addressed Snyder's question.
"I don't think the question is we waited," Collins said. "I think the question is we moved pretty quick. My understanding is as long as it is contained underground there are no risks."
The five schools were the butadiene was found are among the oldest in the district.