City schools contaminated with PCBs?

April 7, 2008 4:19:14 PM PDT
There are some worried parents who are angry over the discovery that thousands of kids may be going to schools contaminated with PCBs, which are highly toxic and linked to cancer.Dozens of schools are affected, and now, officials are trying to figure out what to do next.

Education reporter Art McFarland has more.

P.S. 199 on the Upper West Side was found to have the largest concentrations of PCBs, according to a published report. It has left parents concerned.

Reports say any school built in the 1960s or 1970s commonly contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the caulk used on windows and doors. The toxic substance has been linked to learning disabilities, asthma and cancer.

City officials say PCBs inside schools do not measure at dangerous levels, determined by the federal government to be under 50 so-called parts per million. But the PCB test results cited in the Daily News, apparently done on building exteriors, found levels ranging from 225,000 parts per million at P.S. 199 to 518 parts per million at P.S. 86 in Queens.

City Councilman James Gennaro, of Queens, wants an inspection of all caulking at schools.

"If it's flaking or peeling or chipping, that has to be inspected, that has to be inspected now, and that has to be removed now," he said.

The city health department tested school interiors, in response to the published findings, and city health commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden says, in part, the city tests "were designed specifically to determine whether people are being exposed to significant concentrations in the school environment. The findings indicate clearly they are not."