WE MUST HAVE ASSESSMENTS!!!
So says Deputy Chancellor/Wanker Shael Polakow Suransky.
But removing dangerous toxins from schools?
Yeah, not so much on that:
As the father of an 8-year-old attending Public School 36 on Staten Island, Richard P. Ghiraldi was alarmed to learn that students were being exposed to a known carcinogen in the classrooms.
Last month, Mr. Ghiraldi and hundreds of other parents kept their children home from school for four days after tests showed that lighting ballasts — the devices that convert current into electricity for fluorescent lights— were leaking the highly toxic chemical compounds known as PCBs onto the light fixtures and floor tiles.
“I was surprised they still had these old ballasts in schools,” Mr. Ghiraldi, a 40-year-old paralegal, said. “You’d think the custodians and the teachers would think it’d be a danger.”
Yet as he and other worried parents in New York City press doctors and government officials on the specific risks that their children face from toiling beneath the aging classroom fixtures, which remain in some 800 of 1,200 city school buildings, the answers have been frustratingly vague.
There is no immediate health risk from PCBs lingering in schools, all are told, yet with one important caveat: the longer the exposure, the higher the risk.
Widely used in electrical products and construction materials like caulk before a federal ban took effect in the late 1970s, PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, have been linked to cancer, impairment of immune and reproductive functions, and other illnesses, as well as lower I.Q. levels.
The challenge, as with exposures to many other contaminants, medical researchers say, is that linking the health problems to a specific type and length of PCB exposure with certainty is difficult if not impossible. Some toxicologists note that the risk depends on variables like intensity and duration of exposure.
And just because a light ballast is leaking, they say, it does not mean that PCBs have gotten into the air and that children are being exposed to them.
“It does tell you about the potential, and that’s why you want the ballasts out of there,” said Dr. Bruce Kelman, a toxicologist whose company, Veritox, in Seattle, provides assessments of exposure to contamination in schools, workplaces and homes. “One ameliorating factor is that the kids don’t live in the school, and each room won’t have the same levels of PCBs.”
Adding to the parental stress in a strained budget year, the Bloomberg administration has disputed the urgency of replacing all of the aged T-12-style fluorescent lighting, estimating it would cost about $1 billion. Its negotiations with the Environmental Protection Agency continue.
Anxiety about the dangers posed by PCBs began rising last summer after the city undertook a pilot testing program with the E.P.A. that revealed levels of air contamination exceeding federal guidelines for safety. It soared after the agency, effectively overruling the Bloomberg administration, said further tests could not wait until summer 2011 and began its own spot inspections to identify leaking ballasts last month.
So far, the E.P.A. inspections, which test PCBs in the light fixtures but not in samples of indoor air, have revealed PCB levels above federal regulatory limits in all three buildings tested: P.S. 11 in Brooklyn; P.S. 53 on Staten Island and a building housing both P.S. 13 and P.S. 358 in Brooklyn. (The furor at P.S. 36 on Staten Island arose after a teacher called attention to brownish stains under a light fixture and the city performed tests.)
In December, testing financed by two environmental advocacy groups also found high levels of PCBs in caulk at P.S. 56 in Brooklyn.
“You don’t send your children to school thinking, ‘My kid is going to be exposed to a chemical that’s toxic enough that they ban it in building materials,’ ” said Celia Green, whose 10-year-old son attends P.S. 56.
You see, your problem Ms. Green, is not being aware that Mayor Bloomberg does NOT give a shit about your kid or you.
Neither did Joel Klein and neither does Cathie Black.
Neither does testbot Shael.
What they care about is a) saving money b) making money for their corporate ed deform buddies and c) privatizing the system.
Now if you could prove that it was ATR's, teacher pensions or seniority rules causing the cancer, then these people would be all over this stuff, screaming to high holy hell about the dangers.
But because you cannot do that, and because it costs money to remove cancer-causing toxins from school buildings that they would rather spend on "assessments," your kid goes to a school that may give him/her cancer in the future.
Welcome to Bloomberg's New York.