COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
October 9, 2009
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
On Friday, September 25, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an announcement regarding polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that may be found in caulk used in many buildings, including schools, constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1978. PCBs are toxic chemicals that build up in the body if there is exposure to high levels over a long period of time. I want to make you aware of this issue and resources available to assess the potential risks.
Exposure to PCBs in caulk may occur as a result of direct contact to the caulk, dust, soil and surrounding surfaces and potential exposure to PCBs released into the air. It is important to note that while PCBs may be found in caulk or in the air, it does not necessarily mean there are immediate or long-term health risks. The greatest risks from PCBs involve sustained long-term exposure to high levels of PCBs.
Practical steps to address PCBs in caulk include improved ventilation and hygiene, and the EPA recommends that school administrators take these steps to reduce exposure to PCBs in buildings constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1978. The EPA is providing additional guidance to help identify the extent of potential risks in buildings and determine whether mitigation steps are necessary.
School divisions should consider testing to determine if PCB levels in the air exceed EPA's suggested public health levels. If testing reveals PCBs in the air above these levels in schools or other division buildings, divisions should be especially vigilant in implementing and monitoring improved ventilation and hygienic practices to minimize exposures.
Information related to this issue is available on EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk or by calling the EPA hotline at (888) 835-5372. Additionally, there is a fact sheet about PCBs in schools available at http://www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk/caulkschoolkit.pdf.
Should you need any further assistance, please contact Vijay Ramnarain or Hunter Barnes, architectural consultants, at (804) 225-2035 or by e-mail at Vijay.Ramnarain@doe.virginia.gov or Hunter.Barnes@doe.virginia.gov.