Federal inspectors say they have found toxic PCB chemicals leaking from light fixtures at a public school in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
The Environmental Protection Agency says all 19 aging fluorescent light fixtures tested at P.S. 45 showed abnormally high levels of the toxins. Most samples far exceeded government regulations and require removal.
The government and the city Department of Education are in a standoff about how to handle the issue.
DOE officials say the city cannot afford to repair all fixtures in all of its schools and insists the PCB leaks pose no immediate health risk.
The EPA and environmental activists say the contamination is a serious long-term health threat to children and school staff.
A DOE spokesperson said in a statement about P.S. 45, "All leaking ballasts and/or light fixtures that exhibited signs of PCB staining that were inspected by the EPA have already been removed. The remainder of the ballasts or light fixtures in the school will be replaced in the near future."
Six schools, including P.S. 36 on Staten Island, have tested positive this year for the toxin.
PCBs were commonly used in construction materials from the 1950s until the late 1970s, when they were banned. They have been linked to immune and reproductive system disorders.