PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – On Long Island, a new law is warning of a toxic chemical that has long been used to preserve power poles.

As TV 10/55’s Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, the notice that North Hempstead town officials want PSEG Long Island to put on the giant, new power poles it’s been putting up throughout the north shore warns anyone passing by that the poles have been treated with the chemical penta, a cancer-causing carcinogen that is not allowed in drinking water.

“The poles are in front of schools. They’re a magnet for kids,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “It can be absorbed through the skin. You can touch your eyes, your nose, your mouth and then you are absorbing that chemical. That’s why it says avoid prolonged use.”

Bosworth says the town is now ordering PSEG Long Island to put the signs up or face fines, after it refused to do it voluntarily.

The town has received a flood of complaints about the utility’s use of penta on the poles from parents like Mary Patestas, a mother of two teenagers.

“I have a major problem, obviously for my family and friends in the area. I think they should find an alternative and not ignore the problem that exists,” she said.

Since January, PSEG Long Island has been facing protest for adding the towering power poles throughout Long Island, saying it will greatly help reduce power outages.

Some locals are on the utility’s side, Rose reported.

“If they do something to guarantee the electricity in storms and disasters, I don’t think the chemical preservative is really going to affect anybody,” Hy Pupkin said.

A spokesman for PSEG Long Island told TV 10/55 it doesn’t put penta on the poles, the manufacturers do, and that for decades, the federal government has approved the chemical for this use. They also said the company is looking at its legal options over the new restrictions.

Because of penta’s links to liver disease and cancer, the EPA banned it for use in herbicides to protect drinking water.

It is also banned or restricted in dozens of other countries.

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