Parents of children that attend PS 51 in the Bronx learned back in August that the building has an unsafe level of a cancer-causing chemical, and though Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he’d continue to communicate with them, they now say he hasn’t done enough. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
In a tense meeting last August, city officials admitted to parents that air quality tests at their Bronx school revealed an unsafe level of a cancer-causing chemical called “TCE.”
The building is a former lamp factory, yet it had never been tested for toxins.
Worried parents asked about the health effects. Officials didn't have many answers, but Chancellor Dennis Walcott promised that he’d stay in touch.
“The commitment you have from me right now is to develop the database of the names of current and past families to make sure we work on a protocol for communicating with them and giving them regular updates,” said Walcott.
This week, at the citywide education panel meeting, PS 51 parents asked the chancellor why they haven't heard from him since.
“We are not satisfied. You have not done enough,” said one parent.
The families are pressing for more than just communication.
“We would like a registry list of current and former students. We would like medical monitoring of the current and former students,” said a parent.
With medical monitoring, specialists would assess each of them, and a health registry would track medical conditions across the whole group, allowing doctors to watch for patterns and changes over time.
“The City of New York put people in a building for 20 years which has a toxic chemical inside it, so I think the least we owe these people is medical monitoring,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the teachers union.
The city health department is working with the state health department, which told NY1 it’s doing a review that should result in recommendations but that it won’t happen until next year.
The teachers union doesn't want to wait.
“We have set up medical monitoring for the entire staff at North Shore Hospital, and we have asked both the city and state to do the same thing for the children, all the children who have been through that building. We think that is the least that they should be doing right now,” said Muglrew.
The union is working with the doctor who managed the World Trade Center Monitoring and Treatment Program, with the UFT footing the bill.
Parents and alumni say they deserve the same treatment and care.