TAMMY WEBBER and MARTHA IRVINE
MONROE, Wash. (AP) — At first, teachers at Sky Valley Education Center simply evacuated students and used fans to clear the air when the fluorescent lights caught fire or smoked with noxious fumes. When black oil dripped onto desks and floors, they caught leaks with a bucket and duct-taped oil-stained carpets.
Then came the tests that confirmed their suspicions about the light ballasts.
"Sure enough ... it was PCB oil," said Cynthia Yost, who was among teachers who sent pieces of carpet and classroom air filters to a lab. Tests found elevated levels of the toxic chemicals, used as coolant in the decades-old ballasts that regulated electrical current to the lamps.
Millions of fluorescent light ballasts containing PCBs probably remain i