NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There is a growing movement to test hundreds of New York City schools for toxic chemicals. The push comes after three schools showed alarmingly high levels of PCB.
State lawmakers, health advocates and educators are getting the word out. In addition to the three city schools, hundreds of others are potentially contaminated as well.
“They’ve found 2,000 times the levels of PCBs that we should have and right now they’re stalling and saying that next year they’re gonna continue the testing. We can’t wait any longer when our children’s health is at risk,” Assemblyman Marcos Crespo told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.
PCBs are highly toxic chemicals that have been shown to cause nerve damage and affect brain function — particularly in children who are exposed.
It was banned in the U.S. in 1978, but for decades leading up to then it was regularly used in construction.
After pilot tests this summer showed elevated levels at three city schools some say the Department of Education is dragging its feet in fixing the problem.
“If it’s the most toxic chemicals in the world then it needs to be addressed and it should’ve been addressed a long time ago,” parent Khalisah Bay said.
Debbie Braun’s daughter’s school was one of the three that have already been tested, but she teaches at a school that hasn’t been.
“What’s scary is that that’s one school. If it’s all over and there are hundreds of kids being affected they need to move now,” Braun said.
Parents are now being asked to sign a petition demanding the city to immediately test all 700 schools that may be contaminated.
P.S. 149 is one of the schools built back when it was still legal to use PCBs, but it hasn’t been tested yet. Parents just finding out about the potential toxins inside are demanding immediate action.
“Yeah, when it comes to the children in schools I think it should be a more aggressive approach,” parent Edward Simms said.
City leaders said it is an on-going process and plan to test two more schools next summer.
Health advocates are asking for full public disclosure of all test results.