PCBs in the public school system   Leave a comment

Yesterday, fellow blogger Jenny Prather reported on an article revealing dangerously high PCB levels in New York City public school buildings. According to the article, three school buildings were tested for PCB levels and all three were found to have toxic concentrations. Furthermore, these schools were not concentrated in one district, but spread out throughout the city; one was in the Bronx, one in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Taken together, these early tests suggest that as many as 1,500 public school buildings are contaminated with dangerously high amounts of PCBs.

As a public school teacher, this concerns me for several reasons. First, I have never considered my place of employment to be in the same category of occupational hazard as electrical capacitor manufacturing plants from the 1950s. Perhaps it’s time to change my stance.

Second, youth undergoing periods of rapid growth, such as infancy and puberty, are at highest risk for developmental complications resulting from endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as PCBs. We should not be sending our children into environments that are known to be toxic.

Some parents are taking legal action, and I fear nothing will be done about this issue until great numbers of upset citizens take the issue to court. According to newsinferno.com,

At least one parent is seeking legal action, said the Daily News. Naomi Gonzalez, the mother of Emelina, six, who attends P.S. 178 said, “We’re starting another school year, and the city still has done nothing about this problem,” quoted the Daily News. Gonzalez is filing a lawsuit tomorrow urging the Manhattan Federal Court to mandate that the city Education Department not only test for PCB caulk in high-risk schools, but also require that PCB-tainted materials be removed, reported the Daily News.

We should all follow in Naomi’s foot steps. Thank you, Jenny, for bringing this issue to light.

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Posted August 31, 2010 by lymphomactivist in Uncategorized

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