Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Staten Island Advance
Sunday, April 27, 2008
"Kruger Introduces Bill To Mandate PCB Testing in City Schools"
Here's an excerpt:
“They test for everything else — math and reading, regular assessment tests, and every other academic area big and small,” he said. “But when it comes to the real high-stakes testing — testing for the sake of health — they do nothing.”"
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
"Health hazard in a Harlem school"
This school's caulk was found to have PCBs of 5,300 ppm, more than 100 times the acceptable limit, yet DOE seems to be downplaying the seriousness of the matter. Here's an excerpt:
The Daily News article cites studies indicating that exposure to PCBs can "inhibit the growth of brain cells" in children and has been linked to "anti-social behavior, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-type symptoms."
Probably not a good idea to leave the stuff lying around in an elementary school, right?
Well, not according to the NYC Department of Education (DOE). After learning about the Daily News findings, the DOE conducted its own investigation and found that the PCBs had not become airborne (except in one of the schools named in the report--not ours).
The DOE maintains that the caulk isn't hazardous as long as it's left "undisturbed." However, according to a fact sheet from our union, the United Federation of Teachers, on government environmental regulations, "Materials containing 50 parts per million (ppm) or more of PCBs must be disposed of as a hazardous material." The Daily News reported that our school's caulk has PCBs of 5,300 ppm--more than 100 times the acceptable limit.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"Soil Contamination from PCB-Containing Buildings"
Here's a pretty interesting excerpt: Our findings suggest that the most likely cause of soil contamination found around these PCB-containing buildings is natural weathering.
So basically weather causes PCBs to go into the soil from caulk. Which I take to mean that any building that has PCB contaminated caulk on the outside of the building will have significant levels of PCBs in the soil as well just due to weather. This is not good for schools since kids play outside in the contaminated soil further increasing their exposure to PCBs.
"Bronx officials push for PCB check"
It is hard to understand why the DOE is not taking this issue more seriously:
...the Department of Education has not acknowledged that the illegal contamination is a problem...
The DOE has so far said it has no plans to test for PCBs at the more than 250 other city schools built between 1960 and 1977, despite the city's own air and dust testing turning up elevated PCB levels at schools where The News found contaminated caulk.
This is a national issue that needs a national solution so it is good to see that members of Congress are starting to look at legislation that will address this issue across the country:
On a national level, Bronx Reps. Joe Crowley (D-East Bronx, Queens) and José Serrano (D-South Bronx) are taking the lead on legislation to find and remove all PCB caulking from schools, hospitals and public housing across the country.
Let's hope these efforts continue to gain support to really have a positive impact.
Monday, April 21, 2008
"Tainted Soil to Be Removed Next to Westchester School - New York Times"
The last 2 paragraphs are not very encouraging:
Little is being done at the state level to address the issue. The State Education Department has notified schools of the findings in Dr. Herrick's study through a newsletter. Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli, the chairman of the Assembly's Committee on Environmental Conservation, said he was considering sponsoring legislation that would finance a pilot program to test for contaminated caulk in schools and perhaps other buildings.
But environmental groups expect that advancing such legislation will be difficult. "What schools have a tendency to do is have a 'don't ask, don't tell' approach - they're afraid if you find something, then you'll have to do something about it," said Kathleen Curtis, executive director of the Citizens' Environmental Coalition, an Albany-based advocacy group. "School districts are tight on money. There's been a tremendous amount of difficulty getting a bill passed to test for lead in school water fountains."