PCBs Found at Brooklyn NY School

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes many schools built in the U.S. before 1979 have light ballasts containing <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/pcbs_nyc_schools">PCBs—polychlorinated biphenyls – and also warned that that if New York City did not move quickly on the issue, that it would begin taking its own action to better understand the scope of PCB contamination in the school system.

Now, agency inspectors found PCB leaks at another city school, said The Associated Press (AP), citing The New York Times. The EPA found that 18 samples from 28 taken at P.S. 11 in Brooklyn detected PCB levels in excess of the 50 parts per million (ppm) legal limit, added the AP. As with some of the other PCB contaminations, this one originated from leaking fluorescent ballasts.

PCBs are man-made chemicals linked to a number of adverse health effects, including, most recently, increased blood pressure. PCBs were widely used in construction materials and electrical products prior to 1978. The toxins can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer causing if they build up in the body over long periods of time. Because PCBs do not easily degrade and can remain in our bodies for many years; the longer we live, the more these toxins do build in our systems, increasing in strength with time.

A pilot study was initiated earlier last year that involved three NY city schools and revealed PCB contamination and led a team involving elected officials, labor unions, and community groups to demand testing of some 700 other schools that could also be PCB contaminated. Parents, the New York Daily News recently reported, have also called for testing of caulk at city schools.

The three city schools tested as part of the pilot PCB testing program—P.S. 199, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side; P.S. 178, which is on Baychester Avenue in the Bronx; and P.S. 309, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn—all tested with PCB levels higher those deemed acceptable by the EPA.

The EPA previously said it believes many schools built in the U.S. before 1979 have light ballasts containing PCBs. Six other city schools’ caulk was tested and levels of the dangerous, cancer-causing toxin were found as high as 325,000 ppm, said New York Communities for Change. Elevated PCB levels were found at P.S. 16 in Staten Island, P.S. 53 in Queens; P.S. 149 in Manhattan; and P.S. 15, P.S. 56, and P.S. 332 in Brooklyn, noted The Daily News.

The EPA also recently found that 22 of 33 samples it took from P.S. 53 on Staten Island contain PCB levels exceeding the federal limit, noted The Daily News. Since, education officials announced a pilot study in collaboration with the EPA regarding PCBs in caulking, added The Daily News.

The Wall Street Journal previously wrote that a total of eight other classrooms at P.S. 53 were closed while authorities awaited EPA testing results.

Tests previously revealed dangerous PCB levels on floor tiles at P.S. 36.

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