Bronx School Tests Positive for Toxic Chemicals
August 18, 2011. Department of Education in the Bronx revealed that elementary school P.S. 151 tested positive for PCB's and other toxins six months ago. This comes in the wake of several students and teachers developing symptoms consistent with exposure to certain toxins including PCBs and TCE. Officials from the Department of Education “said that the city would accelerate environmental testing of leased school sites.” (Gotham School)
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott spoke to a group of concerned people who either attended or worked at P.S.151, “which had to be temporarily shut down two weeks ago over concerns about toxic chemicals detected there.” (Gotham Schools) Walcott assured the audience that the city would closely review 31 different facilities “where leases are up for renewal by the beginning of September.”(Gotham School)
“I own this,” Walcott said. “I am the chancellor, and I will take full responsibility for this.”
In the school in question, PCBs “were found in older light fixtures which prompted a group of toxic tort lawyers to sue the DOE for negligence.
PCB is the acronym used for polychlorinated biphenyls, a class of organic compounds. Exposure to PCBs “can cause acne like skin conditions in adults and neurobehavioral and immunological changes in children.” (ATSDR)
Chancellor Walcott’s promises offered “very little consolation” to several distressed parents, who complained that their children frequently “demonstrated symptoms of exposure to various chemicals including trichloroethylene.” (Gotham Schools). The symptoms included “headaches, dizziness and sinus problems." (Gotham Schools) Frequent exposure to trichloroethylene “has been linked to cancer and kidney failure.” (Gotham Schools)
The adverse health effects of chemicals such as PCBS and trichloroethylene can be felt for many years. One woman stated that her child, now 24 years old, “suffers from ovarian cysts that might have been triggered by her exposure to toxic chemicals at P.S.151.” (Gotham Schools)
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