Monday, April 18, 2011

EPA vs. NYC Schools

So the city of New York is apparently “downplaying” the potential danger of PCB contamination in schools, and as a result the EPA is planning to inspect classrooms for potential dangers. Apparently the city says claims that there is no danger, and that to fix the problem would cause the layoffs of 15,000 teachers. And there’s more:
“the city's estimate(s) that it would cost $1 billion to replace the aging fluorescent lighting fixtures that are the chief suspects of PCB contamination in schools.
The EPA has recommended the city immediately begin removing the older fixtures suspected of leaking PCBs, or polychlorinated byphenyls, a potentially cancer-causing chemical linked to numerous other health problems, including reproductive and immune disorders. PCBs were often used in construction and electrical components starting in the 1950s, but were banned in 1978.
The city contends there is little scientific evidence to show that inhaled PCBs like those in the schools pose an immediate health risk. “
I find all of this hard to swallow. I know schools have tight budgets, along with numerous other problems, but I find it hard to believe that replacing the light bulbs in their schools would cost $1 billion, as they estimate.
And even if it did, then I’d challenge them to figure out how many new PCB-free schools they could build instead for a billion dollars. Either way, you can’t put a price on the health of children.

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