In a letter today to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Booker mentioned cases of mercury vapor in multiple schools across his state. He called on EPA to evaluate the risk of exposure to the toxin and, if necessary, adopt a risk assessment model.
“School children, faculty and staff, and the public are at risk from this potential hazard,” Booker wrote. “Our children deserve access to education without risk of toxic exposure, and under no circumstances should the health and safety of our nation’s children be jeopardized while they are at school.”
Since the 1960s, some synthetic rubberized floors were made with a substance that can release mercury vapor in the air. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause developmental problems in children and pregnant women.
Trisha Sheehan, a national field manager for Moms Clean Air Force, said EPA doesn’t have a standard for phenyl mercuric acetate, which acts as a catalyst for mercury vapor release as flooring rubber deteriorates.
“We really need the EPA to put forward a standard that is protective of our most vulnerable, which would be pregnant women and children,” she said. “As a parent who’s watched her son suffer, it’s not enough.”
Sheehan called for more research and guidelines for schools and other centers on how to address flooring that contains or may contain mercury.
School board officials in Gloucester County, N.J., where one of her sons attends school, have estimated it could cost as much as $3.2 million to replace rubber flooring.
Heather Sorge, a campaign organizer for Healthy Schools Now at the New Jersey Work Environment Council, said in a statement that there needs to be routine testing for mercury in school.
“Too many schools in New Jersey have rubberized floors that may contain mercury, potentially exposing school staff and children to this neurotoxin,” she said.
Copyright 2019. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net. For the original story click here. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker wants EPA to investigate the risk of mercury exposure from synthetic rubber flooring typically found in schools, gyms and community centers.