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New Legislation Seeks To Eradicate PCBs In NY Schools

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file / credit: Edward Reed / Mayor's Office)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file / credit: Edward Reed / Mayor’s Office)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation today relating to the notification and reporting of the possible presence of PCBs in city schools. The presence of toxic PCBs in schools has been a hot button issue for parents for a long time.

Earlier this month elected officials called for the Department of Education to shorten its cleanup timetable.

City officials had announced a 10-year plan in February to replace aging fluorescent lights in schools, but community groups and politicians think the plan is way too slow because the lighting fixtures can leak PCBs over time.

At the time Congressman Jerrold Nadler had accused the city of dragging its feet.

“Throw it under the rug,” he said. “Don’t tell the parents and maybe they won’t put the pressure on city hall to stop the threat to the lives and health of our kids, that’s what this is really about.”

Health officials also sounded a warning about the effect of the toxins on women.

“They cause abnormal menstrual cycle. They cause infertility,” said Dr. David Carpenter with the SUNY Albany Institute for Health and the Environment. “The majority of teachers in New York City public schools are women of reproductive age.”

He added that many women exposed to PCBs will also suffer from reduced IQ.

1010 WINS reporter Stan Brooks was there for Mayor Bloomberg’s comments…

Mayor Bloomberg said that today’s legislation comes as part of a larger overall strategy which began with the February announcement.

“Earlier this year, our Administration announced a wholesale effort to improve energy efficiency and environmental quality in more than seven hundred schools, including the removal of all lighting fixtures that may contain PCBs throughout the entire school system,” he said.

“Upon its completion, the comprehensive plan: ‘Greener, Healthier Schools for the 21st Century’ will not only eliminate lighting fixtures using PCB ballasts from City schools, but will also result in energy savings of $95 million every year,” Mayor Bloomberg added.

Bloomberg said the information that will be provided as a result of the legislation will allow parents, teachers, and administrators to hold the Department of Education accountable for the removal of PCBs.

About 700 New York City Schools have been contaminated with PCBs. The PCB bill is one of eight bills that the Mayor signed into law today, including one that will require all newly installed carbon monoxide detectors to have an audible signal and requiring their replacement upon expiration.

Is the city doing enough to combat toxic substances in its schools? Leave your comments below…