Continued PCB Exposure

Exposure to PCB in Schools

The health and wellbeing of our children is especially close to the heart of McEldrew Purtell. We will fight tirelessly for those most vulnerable to the toxic effects of PCB exposure. 

During the height of PCBs being utilized in construction materials, tens of thousands of schools were constructed and/or renovated. Many of the schools are still in operation today without further renovations or updates to remove the toxins, thus exposing children, teachers, and staff daily. 

When used in building applications, PCBs often degrade and become airborne. School children who attend schools built or renovated during this era are therefore exposed to PCBs at levels considered unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The risk of PCB exposure is most commonly associated with skin irritation and liver damage. It has in more serious cases been linked to permanent learning disabilities, increased risk of attention deficits, hormonal and immune compromisation. PCBs are also known to cause cancer in animals, and are considered a probable carcinogen to humans.

Monsanto's widespread distribution of PCBs reached millions of households, rural communities, and schools until the late 1970s. The widespread distribution totaled around 1.8 billion pounds of materials. It is essential, especially in educational settings, to investigate the construction history and materials used in schools.


PCB Health Effects in Children

Studies saw negative effects on the nervous system of exposed children. In general, effects of exposure to PCBs can be much greater in children. Children weigh less than adults, so the intake of PCBs is greater than that of adults, even if both groups are exposed to the same amount. Children’s brains and bodies are still developing, so the effects of PCBs on these systems can be more profound after exposure.

Nervous system effects in children include impaired cognitive function and attention, learning, and memory deficits. Furthermore, some studies found associations in children between exposure and an increased prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Postnatal exposure in very young children is associated with a higher prevalence of recurrent middle ear infections and chicken pox.

Higher prenatal exposure is linked with earlier pubertal development, which in turn is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer in girls, testicular cancer in boys, and a higher incidence of mental health problems in both sexes.

PCB Testing for Schools

Children in schools across the country may be unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing PCBs and there are generally no requirements for schools to do testing or inspections to ensure such exposures are not occurring. Even when potential exposures are identified, the manner in which reporting, communication and remediation of the hazard occurs is inconsistent and often ineffective, left to concerned parents, community members, or school employees. 

If there are reasons to suspect the presence of PCBs in the school environment, it becomes critical to assess the situation to avoid the potential for increased exposure of students to these harmful substances.

It is estimated that between 12,960 to 25,920 schools nationwide still contain PCB found primarily in caulk, sealants, window glazing, fluorescent light ballast, ceiling tile coatings, and possibly other materials such as paints or floor finishes. However, with the nature of PCB other sources become contaminated by the chemicals leaching into the air, sticking to other materials and binding with dust and airborne particles that are breathed into the body.

Having the air tested in a building that you suspect to be contaminated with PCB is a good place to start. You can find air quality testing companies that are local to your school district that will be able to provide extensive results to help you build your case. 

See more resources for testing on our PCB Contamination Testing, Awareness and Action page.

Contact an Experienced Toxic Tort Lawyer

If you believe that your child, or a child of your client has been exposed to PCBs in the school, McEldrew Purtell wants you to know that you are not in the fight alone. Our experienced toxic tort lawyers will work hard to represent you and your concerns not only for your child but for their peers and teachers as well. 

Ongoing legal actions in public schools. (Legal Actions | pcbinschools)