Thanks to a new law, parents of New York City students can be a little less worried about undetected polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) leaking fluorescent light fixtures. The City Council and Mayor Bloomberg passed a law Monday that requires schools to notify parents and amend any potential leaks immediately. Previous to this law, the Bloomberg administration felt it unnecessary to hurry the process of replacing the toxic light bulbs.

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PCB containing light fixtures were widely used in schools across New York between 1950 and 1979. The federal government then found them to be harmful and banned PCBs, but many of the fixtures remain in about 750 of the city’s 1,750 schools, meaning tens of thousands of PCB fixtures are still around. In February, the city pledged to replace the fixtures over the next ten years with a $708 million plan, but that did not help protect the children using the schools right now.

If PCB chemicals leak onto light fixtures or floor tiles, the prolonged exposure can prove harmful to children and teachers, affecting the immune and reproductive systems and, in extreme cases, causing cancer. While the new bill doesn’t guarantee a quick clean up of potential leaks, it does force the city to notify the public of any discovered leaks, as well as ensure the leaking fixtures will be replaced immediately before any damage is done.

The bill was proposed when the City Council found the Department of Education’s policy on PCB light fixtures to be unclear and inconsistent. Hopefully, this was aid in safety as the city slowly replaces the fixtures over the next decade.

Via NY Times

Image © Eyeliam