(Special guest post written by Lois Gibbs, our executive director of The Center for Health, Environment and Justice.)
Are PCBs still harmful?
Exposure to PCBs can cause a wide range of adverse health effects including skin irritation, reproductive and developmental effects, immune effects, and liver damage. PCBs have a unique characteristic that allows them to accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans, remaining in our bodies and causing damage over time. According to the EPA, the data strongly suggests that PCBs are probable human carcinogens. If students or faculty are exposed to PCBs, it can pose short or long-term health effects. Of greatest concern in a school setting, is that PCBs can negatively impact a child’s ability to learn and remember. We want our kids to have the best learning environment in order to reach their potential!
What can you do?
To find out if your child’s school is safe from PCBs, ask your school principal or local school district about the age of the school and if it has undergone lighting replacement renovations. If the school was built prior to 1979 it could have fluorescent light fixtures that contain PCBs. Find out if light fixtures have been removed or replaced after 1979. If the light fixtures have NOT been replaced:
1) Contact your principal to request replacement of the PCB contaminated light fixtures
3) Educate and communicate with other teachers and parents to build support for addressing PCBs in your school district
Children are required to spend 6-8 hours a day in school. Shouldn’t they be provided with an optimal learning environment? They deserve to have toxic-free schools!