GREENWICH, Conn. - The following letter was written by Greenwich resident Bill Effros regarding the construction of the Music Instructional Space and Auditorium project, more commonly known as MISA, at Greenwich High School . When construction began over the summer, contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in the soil. The school has begun removing the contaminants and restoring athletic fields and parking lots disrupted by the discovery. MISA opened Pandoras box. The $17 million budgeted to date is just the down payment. No sooner had MISA construction begun than PCBs, as well as other known carcinogens, were exposed on site. PCBs are far and away the most dangerous, even in miniscule quantities. Quoting from the Dioxin Home Page ( http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/ ): What is dioxin? Dioxins and furans are some of the most toxic chemicals known to science ... there is no 'safe' level of exposure. Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. The most toxic compound is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD. The toxicity of other dioxins and chemicals like PCBs that act like dioxin are measured in relation to TCDD. ... Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, was found at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY, and was the basis for evacuations at Times Beach, MO, and Seveso, Italy. TCDD is considered a health threat in concentrations of 1 part per billion. PCBs are considered the same health threat in concentrations of 1 part per million. PCBs kill. PCBs cause fatal cancer at 1000 times the rate of those not exposed. PCBs cause birth defects. PCBs accumulate in humans over their lifetimes and can be found in fetuses carried by young women inadvertently exposed. Once exposed to PCBs, women should never breast-feed their infants.The high school fields and parking lots rest on 10 to 15 vertical feet of fill spread out over more than 50 acres. The Board of Education has no record of where the fill came from, or what was in it. Less than 1% of the fill has been tested. PCBs at levels exceeding 1 part per million have already been found all over the surface of the high school grounds. PCBs at levels exceeding 1 part per million have already been found 15 feet below the surface. PCBs at levels exceeding 1 part per million have already been found in the drainage ditches surrounding the fields. PCBs at levels exceeding 1 part per million have already been found in the water flushed through the fields onto neighboring properties and into Long Island Sound. PCBs as high as 100 parts per million have already been found in some locations. Maybe there isn't even a trace of PCBs in the remaining millions of pounds of untested high school fill. That seems unlikely. Are we willing to bet our kids lives on it? For more details on the hazards of PCBs, go to the following Websites to see why entire neighborhoods, even entire towns, have been evacuated and abandoned after PCBs were discovered:Love Canal ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal ); Times Beach ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Times_Beach,_Missouri )And Seveso ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seveso_disaster )Start with Love Canal, which also involved a school built on toxic waste despite repeated warnings.No matter what it costs, the high school grounds, including the ground under the buildings themselves, must be properly tested and remediated before our children are irreparably placed in harm's way. The money can be replaced, our children's lives cannot. The Daily Greenwich welcomes the opinions of its readers. Send letters to the editor to Anna Helkoski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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