Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School

Beverly Hills High School has oil wells in one corner of the campus and hundreds of students study, eat, and exercise near and around these things.

About parts per million:

“At her thirtieth reunion, Horowitz was astonished to learn that so many of her former classmates had cancer. Oil wells under the town of Beverly Hills and the highly regarded high school were apparently the cause. She had some difficulty getting access to documents because of ongoing lawsuits initiated by famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Still, Horowitz draws on interviews with cancer specialists, geologists, toxicologists, and former teachers and classmates to relate an amazing story of environmental hazard in one of the nation’s most storied towns, proof that it can happen anywhere. For years students had been living with oil-tinged clothing following workouts on the athletic fields, with oil pumps looming in the background. But town residents, enjoying royalty checks and the tony image of their community, refused to connect the presence of oil pumps and rising reports of cancer in their youth. Horowitz chronicles the residents’ range of emotions, from anger and denial to shame at having done so little to protect their children, as she examines the role of money, image, and continued uncertainty in a community grappling with environmental hazards.”
–Vanessa Bush, Booklist

An acquaintance of mine had a brother who passed away last year from brain cancer. Both of them had attended Beverly just over a decade ago.