Council Members Seek Speedup of Replacing Toxic Light Fixtures in Schools


The City Council Education Committee expressed displeasure on Tuesday at the slow-paced replacement of toxic PCB lighting fixtures in schools.

The city Department of Education last year announced a 10-year plan to remove PCB lighting fixtures across 655 schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there is evidence PCBs can cause cancer, developmental disabilities, and other health problems in humans.

DOE Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm said 97 replacements were planned for summer 2013, free run 3.0 v4 and an additional 73 were scheduled for summer 2014.

Committee Chairman Robert Jackson of Manhattan pointed out that the replacements this summer still would leave 213 schools with fixtures leaking PCBs.

The buildings can’t all be tackled at once due to lack of resources and time, said Grimm. Even if more money were to be added to the budget, it would be impossible to replace more than 97 this summer.

“Starting a new project would require a certain amount of time,” said Lorraine Grillo, president of the School Construction Authority, adding that New lights take several weeks to manufacture.

Committee members argued that two to three years is a more acceptable period.

“You would not have your child sitting in classroom for ten years, being exposed to toxins that could affect their health,” said Jackson. “No parent is going to allow that to happen.”


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