The chart identifies NYC schools where the DOE found window caulk containing more than 50 parts per million (ppm) PCBs. PCBs are highly toxic compounds that were banned years ago but not removed from all sources, such as the caulking material surrounding windows and doors in some buildings. PCBs spontaneously enter the air and can be ingested through breathing. They pose special health and developmental risks to children.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PCBs at levels greater than 50 ppm “present an unreasonable risk of injury to health.” EPA also states that caulk containing more than 50 ppm PCBs “must be removed.” Many schools around NYC nevertheless continue to contain caulk that is contaminated, sometimes very severely, as seen in the chart.
The chart is not the result of a comprehensive survey of NYC schools. In other words, the fact that a school is absent from the chart does not mean it does not contain contaminated caulk. What the chart shows instead are results of some of the PCB tests that the DOE conducted before doing routine window renovation work in the period from April 2008 to September 2009. The caulk that was tested was slated to be removed and was in fact removed. However, the DOE only tested those windows subject to renovation in each school and it is highly likely that other windows and doors at these schools contain the same contaminated caulk.
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI) obtained the information in this chart through a Freedom of Information Law request. NYLPI is a non-profit civil rights organization that does environmental justice work throughout NYC. Together with concerned Bronx parents, we have formed a coalition called the Coalition for PCB-Free Schools. Our goal is to broaden the coalition into a city-wide group that can prevail upon the DOE to provide safe, PCB-free learning environments for all NYC children.
For more information, please contact Senior Staff Attorney Miranda Massie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 212/244-4664.
PLEASE FORWARD THE CHART TO PARENTS WHOSE CHILDREN MAY ATTEND THE SCHOOLS LISTED AND TO TEACHERS AND OTHER SCHOOL EMPLOYEES. THANK YOU.