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PCB Removal Progresses in New York City

Fluorescent fixtures with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been removed from 57 school buildings in New York City as of September, as the city’s education department has begun to carry out a 10-year plan to remove such fixtures from all city schools.

The 57 buildings where fixture replacements have been completed represent 92 schools and programs. In addition, design plans have been completed or work has begun on fixture replacement at another 13 buildings (22 schools and programs), the New York City School Construction Authority says.

PCBs were used in the insulating oil in the ballasts of fluorescent lighting fixtures, but studies showed they caused cancer and their use was banned in 1978. Many schools still have those fixtures, and the oil has been leaking from some of them.

New York City earlier this year announced a $708 million plan to remove the old fixtures from more than 770 schools over 10 years. School officials have said the PCBs do not represent an immediate health risk, but some parents have sued the city to force it to remove the fixtures more quickly.

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