From Gotham Gazette:
A little over two years ago, a construction project at P.S. 53 in Staten Island resulted in so much dust that a fresh layer would have to be wiped away each morning. That dust contained toxic PCBs. The chemical was discovered only because the mother of an asthmatic boy attending the school had it privately tested. The city says it also tested there but only found PCBs in the soil outside.
The city has known for over two years that the hazardous chemicals were present in dozens of schools. Hundreds more are thought likely to be contaminated. Now, as the city wraps up preliminary testing and remediation of PCBs in three schools, advocates, parents and elected officials have launched a campaign to put some fire under the heels of an administration that they see as slow to act.
Those concerned want the department to immediately begin studying the problem citywide and speed up the removal of chemicals in schools known to be affected. With the city reportedly estimating cleanup could cost $1 billion, the education department says that it still does not understand the problem fully. It contends that addressing the issue on a citywide level before the pilot program is finished next year would be inefficient and unnecessarily disruptive to students. But some charge that the city really is concerned about the money.