Environmental BlogOn PCB Issues and Concerns

October 16, 2013

Back in February 2004, the local environmental agency DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) issued DAO 2004-01 (DENR Administrative Order No. 01, Series of 2004), or the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). Through this administrative order, the DENR sought to put in place policies and guidelines to reduce and eliminate the the importation, manufacture, sale, transfer, distribution, and use— as well as to establish the responsibilities for the management and handling— of PCBs, PCB equipment, PCB-contaminated equipment, non-PCB equipment (defined as any equipment that contains PCB concentration of less than 50 ppm), PCB articles, and PCB packaging. DAO 2004-01 also contains guidelines for the treatment and disposal of PCBs and PCB wastes.

The main application of PCBs are as coolants and insulating fluids (as transformer oil) for transformers and capacitors (such as those used for ballasts of older-model fluorescent lights). Old power transformers (such as those manufactured in the 1970’s) are considered a notable legacy source of possible PCB contamination. Production of PCBs has been banned in countries such as the US, the UK, and Japan in the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, but ‘enclosed uses’ of PCBs (capacitors, insulating fluids in transformers, vacuum pump fluids, hydraulic fluids) were continued until the early 2000’s.

PCBs are classified as one of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) due to their relative chemical stability and resistance to environmental degradation (through natural chemical, biological, or photolytic processes). These PCBs thus have potential for significant effects to human health and the environment. Health and toxic effects of PCBs include skin conditions (chloracne and rashes) and possible link to various forms of cancer.

Through the DAO 2004-01, the DENR has implemented monitoring and inventory of POPs and POPs related equipment, PCBs in particular. The DAO 2004-01 specifically includes a provision for ban on the “use or strorage for reuse of any PCBs, PCB equipment, or PCB article, including those in totally enclosed application” by February 2014. The storage of PCB packaging and PCB wastes shall also no longer be allowed.

Contact Triple i Consulting for environmental consulting services related to management of PCB-related concerns in your company.

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