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EPA Inspection Finds PCBs In Another NYC School

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 (AP/CBS 2) – Inspectors from the federal Environmental Protection Agency found leaks of the toxic chemicals known as PCBs at another New York City school.

According to The New York Times, the EPA said 18 out of 28 samples taken at Public School 11 in Brooklyn showed PCBs above the regulatory limit of 50 parts per million.

The EPA said Monday the chemicals were leaking from old fluorescent light fixtures.

Inspectors found PCB contamination at a Staten Island school earlier this month.

The chemicals were widely used in construction from the 1950s until to the 1970s. The contamination does not pose an immediate health threat, but officials say long-term exposure to PCBs can cause cancer and other health problems.

New York City was working with the EPA to conduct the inspections and take remedial action.

Elevated PCB levels were detected earlier this month at P.S. 36 in Annadale. Administrators responded by sealing-off two classrooms and the school was open for business on January 10 despite attempts by parents to keep the school entirley off limits.

The toxic problems have outraged parents who, throughout the day, arrived to pick up kids early. “I think it’s a disgrace that this school is still open,” one parent said. “I really don’t know what’s going on. They said it’s not safe,” another said.

“I got the text message saying keep your son home, it’s not safe, show the mayor we’re the boss,” parent Christine Velasquez said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office told the United Federation of Teachers: “We do not believe there is a health concern that warrants the closure of PS 36.”

But a union representative for the teachers disagreed, saying every light in the building must be replaced. “The fixtures need to be changed. They need to be changed as soon as possible, in as short a time as possible,” UFT rep Sean Rotkowicz said.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)