Parents of students who attend a Queens middle school are demanding answers after they say a janitor found PCBs leaking from an overhead light in a counselor's office earlier this month.
No one was in the room at IS 204 in Long Island City when the leak happened and the light was removed that day, but parents are seething over what they perceive as a serious threat to their children's health.
Yolanda Matthews says she believes PCB exposure is causing her granddaughter to experience respiratory problems.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer called the presence of PCBs in city schools "a ticking time bomb."
The Sept. 10 leak reported at IS 204 was the second case of leaking PCB chemicals discovered in a New York City public school that week. Three days earlier, a brown liquid dripped on a fifth-grader in her Staten Island classroom on the first day of school. It was later confirmed to contain PCBs.
PCBs leaking from old lights at New York City schools were identified as a problem last year. Mayor Bloomberg committed $708 million to swapping out the lights at 772 schools over the next 10 years.
Parents rallying outside IS 204 Tuesday say the Department of Education agreed to push their school up on the list. It could be cleaned as early as next week.
Exposure to PCBs can cause cancer and potential risks to the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.
Activists have complained the city was not moving quickly enough to replace the lighting fixtures. The group New York Lawyers for the Public Interest filed a lawsuit in July 2011 demanding that the city move faster to replace the PCB-tainted lighting fixtures.