May 22, 2024

PCB Testing at Hartford High School

As part of a new law, all schools that were constructed or renovated before 1980 are required to test for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in indoor air and address any issues when PCBs are found at or above the school action level. The intent of the law is to protect students and staff from the possible health effects of exposure to PCBs in the indoor air of schools.  

The health and safety of the children in our care and of our employees is our priority, and we are working quickly to check our school for PCBs.

The indoor air at Hartford High School will be tested for PCBs during April 9 - 19.   We will work with an environmental consultant to collect samples of indoor air that will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. It can take up to four weeks for the samples to be processed at the laboratory, sent to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and reviewed by the Health Department.

What are PCBs?

PCBs are a group of human-made chemicals that were commonly used in building materials and electrical equipment before 1980. Lighting ballasts in older fluorescent lighting fixtures and caulk are the common sources of PCBs in school buildings.

Why are PCBs a concern?

PCBs can cause serious health problems. The potential for health effects from PCBs, as with other chemicals, depends on how much, how often, and how long someone is exposed to them.

Numerous studies in both humans and animals have shown that exposure to PCBs can affect the nervous, immune, reproductive and endocrine (hormone) systems. PCBs are also classified as probable human carcinogens. This means that exposure to PCBs can likely cause cancer in humans.

How are students and staff exposed to PCBs in a school building?

PCBs can be released into indoor air from building materials that contain PCBs. Students and staff may be exposed to PCBs by:

  • Breathing in dust or vapors that contain PCBs.
  • Getting dust containing PCBs on their hands and then swallowing it while eating or drinking.
  • Skin contact with materials that contain PCBs.

What will happen if there are PCBs in the air of our school?

If levels of PCBs are  below the school action level in all rooms tested, then changes in occupancy are not needed.

If levels of PCBs are  at or  above the school action level, then sources of PCBs are likely present. The State will work with school administrators to investigate and provide recommendations on how to reduce exposure.

We want PCB levels in indoor air to be as low as possible. Testing, identifying, removing, and mitigating sources of PCBs, as well as reducing the time spent in some rooms, are ways we can lower the levels of PCBs in the indoor air of our school.

How will I be notified of the results?

The results will be posted online within seven days after we receive the results from DEC and recommendations from the Health Department. We will also send you a letter that lists the results.

Where can I find more information?


To contact someone at Hartford High School about the testing: Call Hartford High School at 802-295-8610.