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Tell NYC’s Department of Education to Get Toxic PCBs out of Schools

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New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) is claiming that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) don’t pose an immediate threat to children and teachers, despite the fact that city and EPA testing has found elevated levels of the chemicals in schools.

PCBs are longer produced in the U.S., but they persist in our environment, causing skin conditions in adults and neurobehavioral and immunological problems in children. They are also known to cause cancer in animals. Although their use was phased out in 1977, products made before then may contain PCBs. In NYC schools, old fluorescent lighting fixtures and caulking are the main sources of PCBs. 

The Environmental Protection Agency recently notified the DOE that it doesn’t agree with the DOE’s claims that the PCB-contaminated material poses no threat. The federal agency is asking that the DOE immediately replace aging light fixtures, and threatening to come in and do testing in the schools, since the Department is failing to take action.

The DOE should heed parents, teachers and regulators calls to immediately replace their aging fluorescent lights, which are a known source of PCBs. Ask the DOE to put children’s health first and begin the replacements now. 



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