Feds to inspect city schools for PCBs

December 21, 2010 05:40PM

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning a large-scale inspection of New York City schools after a city-led pilot study found elevated levels of toxic PCB chemicals in three buildings last summer, according to the New York Times. The PCBs were found leaking from old fluorescent light fixtures and the Bloomberg administration has contended that there’s no cause for immediate concern about students’ health as a result of the contamination. Plus, the city has said, replacing the outdated fixtures in the estimated 750 to 850 school buildings that need new ones would likely cost around $1 billion. The lights have already been replaced at the three schools where PCBs were found, and the city, which has been planning to test an additional two schools next summer, wants to finish its pilot study before deciding on a plan of action. But the EPA called exposure to PCBs “cause for considerable concern” and will nonetheless begin its inspections early next month. The city will be responsible for removing any contaminated fixtures “in an expedited manner,” wrote Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator for New York, in a letter to city officials last week. In that letter, she also said the city had “considerably” overestimated the cost of addressing the issue. [NYT]