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Custodian Finds Light Leaking PCBs At I.S. 204 In Long Island City

A custodian discovered a light fixture leaking liquid with PCBs at IS 204 in Long Island City. (credit: CBS 2)

A custodian discovered a light fixture leaking liquid with PCBs at IS 204 in Long Island City. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the New York City school year takes off, there are renewed concerns about toxic schools.

Following another accident involving a leaking light, parents are demanding action to prevent potential PCB exposure.

The latest school affected is I.S. 204 in Long Island City, Queens, where parents and others said they are concerned.

“They should all be gone today. We cannot wait to take a chance,” parent Joynan Abeein told CBS 2′s John Slattery.

School officials said on Monday, a custodian discovered a light fixture leaking liquid with PCBs onto the floor of a counselor’s office.

“The room was closed. We removed the fixture last night. We are following protocol and will be notifying parents,” Department of Education spokesperson Marge Feinberg said.

It’s the second time such an incident has happened at a city school in the last week.

Last Thursday at P.S. 41 on Staten Island, fifth grader Gabby Sferrazza was in class when a light ballast dripped onto her desk and her clothes.

PCBs were used in the insulating oil of ballasts in older fluorescent light fixtures. New York City school buildings used such lights from 1950 to 1978.

Since 600 buildings may still have the lighting, last year the Department of Education embarked on a 10-year plan to replace the fixtures. Eighty three schools are completed, 117 are in progress.

Public watchdogs call the leaking distressing.

“PCBs are volatilizing in the air. It is contaminating the air. So every student in that classroom is breathing contaminated PCBs,” said Christina Giorgio, of New York Lawyers for Public Interest

It’s a health safety issue that for the Department of Education is a long-term project, based on what it can afford to do.

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest has gone to court hoping to speed up the timetable.