Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Here is a chart that 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 yet removed from all sources.

PCBs spontaneously enter the air and can be ingested through breathing. They pose particular 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” and “must be removed.” The windows at many public schools around NYC nevertheless continue to contain caulk that is contaminated with PCBs, sometimes very severely.

What the chart shows are results of some 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 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.

PLEASE JOIN THE NYC COALITION FOR PCB-FREE SCHOOLS! We are parents, school employees, and community members concerned about the risks posed by PCBs in schools. We have formed a coalition to urge the DOE to have all NYC schools tested and cleaned up; we also want to ensure that parents have a meaningful voice in the DOE’s decision-making on this issue. All children deserve a PCB-free learning environment. If you know parents at any of the schools, please let them know, and please forward this information widely.

To join us, or if you have questions, please contact New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), the non-profit civil rights organization we are working with. You can reach Staff Attorney Miranda Massie at or Community Organizer Gigi Gazón at They can also both be reached at 212/244-4664.