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EPA Finds Elevated Levels Of PCB At 3 NYC Schools

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Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency found elevated levels of PCB at several New York City Schools. (credit: CBSNewYork)

Testing by the Environmental Protection Agency found elevated levels of PCB at several New York City Schools. (credit: CBSNewYork)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The first day of school is right around the corner, and parents are concerned about an Environmental Protection Agency study that found elevated levels of PCB in three schools in our area: P.S. 199 in Manhattan, P.S. 309 in Brooklyn, and P.S. 178 in the Bronx.

A five-school pilot study by the EPA found elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, in the three NYC schools. At P.S. 199 in Manhattan, parent Michelle Ciulla Lipkin is concerned for her children’s health.

“We need to make sure that these levels are safe for our kids and our staff,” Lipkin said. “These are small kids – there are some four-year-olds coming to school on September 8. We need to make sure the school is safe for them.”

“The EPA has stated that there is no immediate cause for alarm, and we believe that there are no immediate health concerns for the occupants in the building,” Sharon Greenberger, chief operating officer of the NYC Department of Education, said.

“They are known carcinogens, which means they cause cancer,” environmental lawyer Al Huag said. “They cause developmental problems, especially in children, when inhaled.”

A law banning PCB went into effect in 1979. PCB was previously found in building materials that were used in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

The test initially focused on cracked caulk, but according to Department of Education officials, samplings of the air showed unacceptable levels of PCBs in regulating devices in fluorescent lights.

Officials told CBS 2 all the fluorescent lights were being replaced at P.S. 199. Following the clean-up, parents want their school retested to make sure the building is safe for their kids.

“People need to see the results before the kids go back, and that we get assurances over the next few months that they will be in here, testing,” parent Eric Shuffler said.

“We will begin testing as soon as the replacement work is complete, we will be posting validated results next week,” Greenberger said.

With classes beginning September 8, the clock is ticking.

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