NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – “Relocate now!” was the cry from students and parents at P.S. 51 in Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s West Side.

“Our children and staff are being held hostage in a toxic environment,” says parent Jill Novensky.

She says her son – a first grader – and many other students there are sick from contaminated soil at a construction project next to the school.

She says an environmental impact study found lead, mercury, and other heavy metals in the soil.

“It is cancer causing,” Novensky said. “Under the ground is one thing, but it can become airborne.”

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“Children are experiencing spontaneous nose bleeds, unexplained rashes, migraine headaches,” she says, adding they are also experiencing extreme asthma.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond In Hell’s Kitchen

In a statement, the Department of Education says air quality is being monitored and the school was given air conditioners and air purifiers in the remote chance dust enters the building. They say watering the soil keeps dust to a minimum.

But parents like Gigi Shirabu say that doesn’t go far enough.

“I don’t understand. You know, you’re talking about kids. I’d rather keep my son at home,” she says.

P.S. 51 is located on West 45th Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue.

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