It's teacher hunting season!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Toxic elements in NYC schools; nine months of inaction?

PCBs have been found in window caulk in three New York City schools.
See Mireya Navarro, "Preliminary Tests Find Elevated PCB Levels in 3 Public Schools" in the August 18, 2010

A blogger (PCB Free) has posted an August 4, 2010 report of concerns over PCB presence in schools.

This is an old, lingering issue. On January 19, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached an agreement with the NYC Department of Education, whereby the city would study PCBs in five city schools. But there was no mention of the dozens of schools already found to have PCBs.

The schools revealed in August represent the tip of an iceberg. In November 26, 2009, "The Queens Chronicle" reported that there is toxic PCB caulk on the windows of numerous primary and secondary schools in the city.
The article, by Lisa Fogarty, reported that the New York City Department of Education determined that there is such contamination on 85 public schools in the city. It also reported that parents have been active in opposing the presence of these compounds in the window caulk. It quoted Naomi Gonzalez, a Bronx parent that is working with other parents in litigating, with the assistance of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, against the Department of Education and the School Construction Authority.
These windows are the legacy of construction from earlier generations, as the article reported:
Before the 1970s, PCBs, which stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, were added to the caulking material used to cushion window and door frames to make them more elastic, according to the NYLPI. Although they were banned in 1979, products that may still contain the compound include electrical equipment, oil-based paints, floor finishes and caulking — which has recently been found in abundance on many school windows.

PCBs volatize into air and don’t stay in place, Massie said, affecting the quality of air students breathe, as well as the soil around a facility.

A fuller accounting is needed. Many questions need to be addressed. How many schools with pre-1980 windows (or other areas with possible PCB caulking) have yet to be tested? When will the New York City Department of Education act to replace the toxic windows? How is the NYLPI's suit against the School Construction Authority progressing?

For more sites on the issue of PCBs in schools, see PCBs: Mandatory Testing in Schools or

1 comment:

  1. Amazingly, your writing goes to the essence of the issue. Your lucidity leaves me wanting to know more. Allow me to forthwith grab your feed to keep up to date with your online blog. Saying thanks is simply my little way of saying bravo for a wonderful resource