Tag Archive | "PCBs"

Citywide Plan to Replace Hazardous PCB Lighting Fixtures

By Sana Taskeen Gulzar

On the heels of an alarming study of PCBs in New York City Schools by the Environmental Protection Agency, the city’s Department of Education has announced a $708 million plan to replace PCB lighting ballasts and to improve energy efficiency in 772 city schools.

The EPA’s study of fluorescent lighting fixtures in seven city schools, including PS 68 in the Bronx, showed PCB leaking in levels higher than federally approved limit of 50 parts per million. In PS 68, 10 out of the 13 samples taken showed PCB leakage exceeding that limit.

The EPA has been conducting spot inspections at random city schools to help steer a city-wide policy to address the issue of PCB leakage in schools, said Mary Mears, the agency’s spokeswoman

PCB or Polychlorinated Biphenyl is a chemical found in florescent lights and caulking and was manufactured before a 1979 congressional PCB ban in the United States. Extended exposure to PCB has to cause cancer in animals and other health problems including damage to human immune, reproductive and endocrine systems.

In response to increased pressure by the EPA and concerned parents and community leaders, the DOE says it will replace lighting ballasts in schools all over the city over a period of 10 years. According to the Department of Education, the city will prioritize 772 city schools according to the following criteria:

1)    schools with visual leaks,

2)     elementary schools built between 1950 and 1966,

3)     secondary schools built between 1950 and 1966,

4)     elementary schools built between 1967 and 1979,

5)     secondary schools built between 1967 and 1979,

6)    elementary schools constructed prior to 1950, and

7)     secondary schools constructed prior to 1950

The DOE spokesperson, Marge Feinberg asserted that this 10-year plan will not only rid the schools from PCBs but will also make them more energy efficient.

“We believe this is a fiscally responsible approach to addressing the issue of PCBs in our schools—the plan can be accomplished without disrupting student learning and it will generate significant energy savings for the city and taxpayers in the long run,” Feinberg said in an email response.

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