2009-12-04 / Top Stories

Toxic PCBs In BCHS Window Frames

By Howard Schwach

Beach Channel High School is one of the Queens schools that has toxic PCBs in its window frames. Beach Channel High School is one of the Queens schools that has toxic PCBs in its window frames. Add to the list of warnings parents give their sons and daughters before they leave for Beach Channel High School each day, "Don't sit near the windows."

That local high school is one of 20 in Queens and 80 citywide where the Department of Education has found traces of toxic caulk on many of the classroom windows.

Before the 1970s, caulk containing toxic PCBs was used regularly in school windows to cushion window and door frames to make them more elastic, according to a spokesperson for the New York Lawyers for the Public In - terest (NYLPI). Although the use of the toxic material, which has been proved to cause cancer in rats, was banned in 1979, it was used extensively in schools that were built in that era and is still used in some products such as oil-based paint and floor finishes.

The toxin has been known to impact the immune, nervous and reproductive systems in humans.

A number of parents from a Bronx school have sued the Department of Education for not removing the toxins in a timely manner.

PS 65, a school in Ozone Park that is in the same district with the Rocka - way schools, is another that is full of toxins, not only from the window frames, but because it was built on the site of a former industrial site where helicopter parts were made.

The Bronx parents who are suing the DOE claim that the city agency kept them hanging for two years, continually saying that the findings about the toxic material in their children's school "were not available."

Now, however, a spokesperson for the DOE says that the agency is planning to rid the schools, including Beach Channel High School, of the material.

"We are engaged in positive and productive discussions with the United States Environmental Protection Ag - en cy to develop an agreement on a plan to address the PCBs in the public schools," a DOE spokesperson told The Wave this week.

No timetable has yet been set, however.

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