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Parents, Teachers at Former PS 51 School Building in Bronx getting Angry Waiting for Report on Toxic Exposures they Suffered

Feb 7, 2013

Parents and school administration at PS 51 in Bronx, N.Y., say they’ve waited too long for state health officials to release a report detailing the effects of being exposed to a chemical in their former school building.

According to a New York Daily News report this week, parents at the Bronx New School say that it’s been nearly a year since they were told that the state’s Dept. of Education was pushing to have a health report released on the dangers students, teachers, and staff faced while attending their former school building on Jerome Ave. in the Bronx.

The school was closed in 2011 after officials found toxic levels of trichloroethene (TCE) inside the former lamp factory that was converted to PS 51. In its first misstep, the DOE and other safety officials waited months to tell anyone at the school about the dangerous levels of TCE they found inside the school.

In March of last year, an official with the DOE told everyone who attended the school on a regular basis that the report detailing the dangers and the potential health effects of that exposure was being hurried so they could have that potentially life-saving information. This week, frustrations with the still unreleased report hit a breaking point and now parents, teachers, and at least one City Councilman are demanding the report be released.

PS 51 was moved to another building in the area after it was shuttered once the public was made aware of the high levels of TCE, levels 10-times higher than considered safe in New York, the report indicates. TCE is a known toxin and carcinogen. Since they were made aware of the contamination, at least one teacher has decided to take legal action against the state for waiting months to report the dangers and believes the birth defects her unborn baby is suffering from are the result of TCE exposure inside the former school building.

A few parents of students at the former school are now beginning to wonder if their child’s behavioral problems and persistent health troubles are the result of being exposed to TCE while attending PS 51’s former site.

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera joined the fight against state officials this week and introduced a resolution demanding that the Department of Health release the much-anticipated report. He also introduced legislation that would require the DOE to release similar reports in the future in a much more timely manner.

One official told New York Daily News that exposure to TCE may likely have long-term health implications and that may not be detailed if and when the state releases any form of report in the future.

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