Baron & Budd is offering free PCB testing to schools that were built between 1950 and 1980. Please contact us here or call 866-364-6376 to discuss a free assessment of your school’s potential PCB contamination and to learn how Baron & Budd is holding Monsanto accountable for this toxic threat to our children.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (or “PCBs”) are a group of man-made chemical compounds known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. They were manufactured solely by Monsanto in the U.S. and were used widely in construction materials in schools and commercial buildings built between 1950 and 1980. PCBs were manufactured domestically, beginning in 1929 and continuing until they were banned in 1970. Today they are the subject of PCB lawsuits that assert Monsanto’s negligence. Baron & Budd is one of the first PCB law firms in the country to file a PCB lawsuit on behalf of a school.
Despite the fact that Congress banned the manufacture, sale and use of PCBs in the United States in 1979, PCBs exist today in many schools and other buildings that were constructed before 1980, particularly schools that were built between 1950 and 1980. The ban was based on substantial evidence of widespread environmental contamination and PCBs’ association with cancers and other serious health effects.
Today, affected communities may not even know that dangerous PCBs are in public buildings like schools. In particular, PCBs were used in light ballasts and in caulking around doors and windows in schools – elements that often still exist and may cause toxic exposure today. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only recently begun to provide information to school districts regarding the presence of PCBs and appropriate means to prevent students and teachers from being exposed to these dangerous chemicals. However, since PCB testing is not currently mandatory, many schools do not fully realize the importance of testing or are confused about how to fix the problem and do not realize that a PCB lawsuit, holding Monsanto accountable, may be a viable means to pay for the cost of the clean up.
Baron & Budd is one of the first PCB law firms in the United States to tackle the problem of PCBs in schools by helping schools find a solution to the costly removal of PCBs: holding Monsanto responsible. We have already filed a PCB lawsuit in this matter and it is our hope to help many other schools across the country.
Contact Baron & Budd here to learn more about our program for free school testing and how we approach PCB lawsuits.
Baron & Budd recently filed a lawsuit against the Monsanto Company and its corporate successors on behalf of the Town of Westport and the Westport Community Schools in Massachusetts. The lawsuit alleges that Monsanto knew about the dangers of PCBs as early as the 1930s but failed to warn people of the severe dangers associated with PCBs. On behalf of the Westport schools, Baron & Budd is seeking a solution that will truly “Protect What’s Right” for these school children, their parents and teachers: an order requiring Monsanto to pay for removing PCB-contained materials from the schools.
The term “PCBs” refers to a family of over 200 polychlorinated biphenyl compounds produced domestically by Monsanto. PCBs were used in the manufacture of construction and building materials — including, for example, electrical regulators and switches, thermal insulation materials, adhesives and tapes, and caulks, paints and sealants. Many of these products were commonly used in the construction of schools built between 1950 and 1980 – a “boom” time for new school building in America.
What is unique about PCBs is their ability to migrate out of their original placement. The molecules can move — even when no physical change is made to the building materials themselves — from their original placement, into the air or onto adjacent materials or soil. Studies have confirmed that contamination of indoor air in school buildings containing PCB-laden caulking can occur even when there is no evidence of decay or even minor alteration to the surrounding building materials. At the same time, renovation projects may cause an increased release of PCBs into the school environment.
Children and adults alike are then at risk for inhaling the emitted PCBs that have moved into air or dust, ingesting PCBs that have settled into water or food, or absorbing PCBs through their skin by touching contaminated material like caulking and dust in school buildings. Because PCBs do not biodegrade, people who have been exposed to PCBs can carry the toxic load in their bloodstreams or store the toxin in their bodies’ fat supply indefinitely.
Any exposure to PCBs is a concern because PCBs are associated with serious health risks. PCBs are one of the most widely studied environmental toxins, and the EPA has determined that PCBs are probable human carcinogens. In addition, the EPA concluded that PCBs are also associated with serious non-cancer health effects. From extensive studies of animals and primates, the EPA has found evidence that PCBs exert significant toxic effects, including effects on the immune system, the reproductive system, the nervous system and the endocrine system.
Additionally, children’s developing brains and bodies may be more susceptible to the effects of chemicals than those of adults. This may be due to the sheer size of a child but it also may be due to the fact that children’s brains and bodies are still developing and growing more rapidly, and so they are even more susceptible to chemicals. In 1993 the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences found that children are also more susceptible to the effects of toxins than adults because children have faster metabolic rates and consume more food, water and air per pound of body weight than adults.
Although there are many ways to test for PCBs, Baron & Budd tests the source material, generally caulking, to determine the density of the toxin. We believe this is the most reliable way to test since other methods, such as air testing, are temporal – and can even be manipulated by opening widows or cleaning right before testing.
Individual parents and teachers may feel overwhelmed, but there is a great deal they can do to educate school administrators about the problem of PCBs in schools. The first step is generally to test for PCBs. Baron & Budd offers free testing to any school, anywhere in the nation, as long as the request comes from a school authority.
Although PCB exposure presents serious health risks to students, teachers and other people in school buildings, school districts do not have to shoulder the burden of PCB contamination alone. Baron & Budd works with school districts to determine whether they should test buildings, consults with experts to develop plans to remove any PCB materials, and works to recover the funds necessary to restore the property to the safest possible condition to protect children, teachers, and staff from exposure to PCBs.
Contact Baron & Budd here to learn more about our program for free school testing.
So, let’s say you’re a school district that has hired Baron & Budd to test for PCBs, and we find them in your school. Naturally, your next question is, “What do I do now?”
Well, the EPA says you should try to find the potential sources of the PCBs and then take the following steps to minimize exposure to them until you can remove them in their entirety:
- Ensure that your ventilation system is working as designed and, if not, repair or improve it;
Replace old lighting systems with new, energy efficient ones;
Reduce dust and residue in buildings by cleaning frequently;
Use wet or damp cloths or mops to clean surfaces, NOT dry brooms and dusters;
Vacuum with HEPA filters; and
Wash your and your children’s hands and toys frequently and with soap.
A national non-profit group, Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PC4HS), goes a little further and advocates the following methods for minimizing exposure to PCBs:
- Use well-filtered vacuums certified for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) testing, and/or other independent labs;
Empty, clean, and inspect vacuum filters regularly;
- Empty vacuum liners or bags outdoors and into a plastic trash liner to avoid spreading particles;
Use damp cloth or microfiber dusters that capture and remove particulates, and then launder these materials separately from other textiles;
Dust frequently, especially in classrooms, and utilize cleaning specialists in a mapped and inspected process or plan that enables regular and thorough removal of soils (including dust); and
Make sure you maintain good ventilation to minimize airborne particles that may be harmful or allergenic.
At the end of the day though, the only way to prevent students, teachers, and staff from exposure is to remove the PCBs entirely.