Several classrooms at Monroe school closed while investigators test for possible chemical linked to cancer


MONROE, Wash. -- You may not have heard of PCBs in a long time, if you've ever heard of them at all.

However, recent concerns over the potentially cancer-causing chemical is forcing a local school, Sky Valley Education Center, to close off parts of the building until further notice.

“We did have some tests come back with high levels of PCBs," said Dr. Fredrika Smith, superintendent of Monroe Public Schools.

Smith said these man-made chemicals were once used in the construction of older buildings.

According to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PCBs also have been linked to certain kinds of cancer.

So when the tests came back showing high levels of PCB, district leaders tell Q13 News they removed anything in the classroom that could have them. They replaced the light fixtures with new ones as a precaution.

“In addition to that, the caulking, because it’s an older building, so a lot of that may have had PCBs as well in them," said Smith.

“That is the report that we received," Smith said.

But, as it turned out, the report showed a false positive, which the district says was the result of mishandling during the testing process.

The seven affected areas, including a gym, locker room and gathering place, were tested again, and came back clean.

However, the district isn’t leaving anything to chance and are closing off those spaces until another round of tests is done.

"We would never take a chance and put people in an environment that we don’t believe to be safe," said Smith.

We're told the students will be moved to another parts of the building until they feel comfortable that PCBs are not posing a threat.

This isn't the first health scare in the Monroe School District. About a year ago, we reported about about students feeling nauseous and having itchy eyes at Sky Valley. Turns out, according to Smith, the ventilation systems may have been to blame.