Teachers union president Mulgrew and City Councilman Cabrera urge release of report on toxin’s effects
KEIVOM, JAMES/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Kelly King Lewis, who had two daughters attending PS 51, speaks at a protest in 2011. She says now that parents are at a stalemate with the state Department of Health over findings of the effects of toxic chemicals at the school.
It’s been more than two years since the Department of Education found unsafe levels of a cancer-causing chemical inside a Bronx school.
But parents of children who attended PS 51, the Bronx New School, on Jerome Ave. said they’re still waiting for a report from the state Department of Health detailing the health impacts from exposure to trichloroethene, or TCE, inside the school.
“We’re at a stalemate, we really are,” said Kelly King-Lewis, whose two daughters attended the contaminated school.
“We’re trying to move this consultation report forward and get the state to release it - but it seems like we’re pulling teeth,” she said. “It’s very, very frustrating for us.”
Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said, “The report should be released to parents and staff immediately. Making parents, teachers and the community wait this long is ridiculous.”
One PS 51 teacher is suing the city Department of Education for birth defects her unborn child suffered while she worked at the school.
Last week, City Councilman Fernando Cabrera submitted a resolution that the state Department of Health release PS 51’s health consultation report.
Cabrera also submitted a legislative amendment that the School Construction Authority notify parents faster once it learns a school site is contaminated. The DOE waited months to tell PS 51 parents about the TCE contamination.
The DOE shuttered PS 51’s site–a former lamp factory–in 2011 after test samples revealed TCE vapors indoors were 10 times the state’s limit.
HARBUS RICHARD/FREELANCE NYDN
Public School 51 at 3220 Jerome Ave. was deemed unsafe after high concentrations of a toxic chemical were found there.
Last March, representatives from the DOH met with students’ parents and told them they were investigating the health effects of TCE exposure at the school, and they’d publish a report detailing the health impacts of spending time in the contaminated school.
A DOH spokesman said he had no information to provide on the report’s release.
Even if it’s made public, the report still may not give parents answers because TCE-contamination symptoms may not show up right away, said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight.
“The chronic health risks could manifest themselves in the long-term,” Siegel said. “That’s one of the difficulties in studying it.”
Parents picking up their children Monday from the relocated PS 51, in the former St Martin of Tours school building on E. 182nd St., said they were concerned about how the toxins were affecting their kids.
Anna Jimenez, whose nine year old son went to school in the Jerome Ave. building for two years, wondered whether her son’s health would get worse in the future.
“There’s no guarantee that something might come out later on,” she said.
And another mother questioned whether the colds, headaches and behavioral problems her second grade daughter suffered while at the old site was related to exposure to TCE.
“I am very, very outraged,” the woman said. “We don’t know the long-range effects of this.”Books, Bronx Education, Bronx Health, Bronx Neighborhood News, Bronx News, Bronx People, Bronx Tragedy, CANCER, City Council, City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Community, Department of Education, Department of Education, Environment, High School, Medical, Politics, The Bronx, The State Department of Health, United Federation of Teachers