Borough President Diaz Calls for Urgent Action on PCB Contamination
Test results at P.S. 68 highlight the real hazard of public school contamination
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has written a letter to Dennis Walcott, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development, concerning the results of recent testing for PCB contamination at P.S. 68 in the northeast Bronx.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are extremely toxic chemicals that, for many years were unwittingly put in building materials and lighting fixtures used in school buildings. Studies have shown associations between children’s exposure to low levels of PCBs and leukemia, disturbance of immune function, and reduced IQ. Such studies have also linked low exposure levels in adults with attention deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
Testing at P.S. 68 was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in January. A total of thirteen samples from lighting fixtures were taken from eleven rooms at the school. Ten samples showed results above the regulatory limit of 50 parts per million. In nine of the 11 rooms where samples were taken, the EPA found results that were above the regulatory limit.
In his letter to Deputy Mayor Walcott, Borough President Diaz demands that the issues at P.S. 68 be remediated immediately. In addition, the borough president called on the Department of Education to remove the lighting fixtures at all public schools that may be at risk for PCB contamination. In addition, the letter demands that the City test all public schools that may be contaminated by PCBs within the next 18 months.
“PCBs are a serious threat to the health of both our children and the teachers, custodians and other staff that go to work every day in our public schools. The City must protect the health of these individuals, children and adults alike, and begin the immediate testing of all school buildings that may be at risk of PCB contamination. We cannot tolerate any further delays, too much is at stake,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
It is estimated that roughly 800 of the City’s 1,200 public school buildings may be at-risk of PCB contamination.
Click here to download a copy of Borough President Diaz’s letter to Deputy Mayor Walcott.