Home News and Features Elevated PCB Levels Found at U-32, Contractor Hired

Elevated PCB Levels Found at U-32, Contractor Hired

In testing done the week of Aug. 24, levels of airborne polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were above state action levels were found in several U-32 school rooms, including the auditorium, dance studio, athletic training room, and some storage rooms, according to a Nov. 27 letter to parents and staff from U-32 principal Steven Dellinger-Pate and superintendent Meagan Roy. The health effects from PCBs “depends on how much, how often, and how long someone is exposed to them,” they wrote.

“All of our spaces are deemed safe to occupy during mediation,” said Roy in an email. “We continue to partner with the Department of Health and follow their guidelines with regards to safety,” she said.

The state action level for airborne PCBs is 100 nanograms per cubic meter for the school’s age group. Based on the tests this fall, the highest levels found were about 200 ng/cubic meter in two storage rooms; the student athletic spaces were 130 ng/cubic meter or less.

The school has contracted with Stone Environmental, Inc., of Montpelier to investigate the source of the PCBs and look into mitigation, said Roy. “We are also in the process of bringing air filtration systems into impacted areas during the mitigation process,” she said.

The school is taking these steps to reduce the PCB levels within six weeks while the contractor works with the Department of Environmental Conservation, according to the school official’s letter.

“The testing was part of the statewide testing required for school buildings,” said Roy. Polychlorinated biphenyls were commonly used in building construction before 1980, and U-32 was built in 1971. Statewide testing for indoor air samples for PCBs began with Act 74 in 2021.

For the cost of PCB mitigation, Roy said they “won’t have this information until our consultants complete their analysis. We will better understand cost impacts at that time.”

While money for the testing comes from the Department of Environmental Conservation, the funds for mitigation are not allocated by the state. According to Vermont bill H.486 from earlier in 2023, a task force will investigate mitigation needs and funding options for schools statewide. This task force will report on Jan. 15, 2024.

Other Washington Central schools will be tested in 2024, according to the district’s Dec. 8 Community Newsletter.