Huntington Beach, CA, January 15th, 2021
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a 5-page information and reference fact sheet about polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fluorescent light ballasts (FLBs). The document provides information on how to investigate for, remove, store and dispose of PCB-containing FLBs.
PCBs belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. They were domestically manufactured from 1929 until manufacturing was banned in 1979 in the United States. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications. They were used extensively as coolants in hydraulic systems and as dielectric fluids in electrical equipment as well as many other applications. In buildings, in addition to fluorescent light ballasts, PCBs were even once used in some paints, mastics, sealants, adhesives, caulking and specialty coatings.
Regarding fluorescent light ballasts, the EPA reports that any manufactured before July 2, 1979, may contain PCBs. According to the agency, these ballasts commonly contain pure PCB liquid in small sealed capacitor(s) as well as possibly in FLB “potting material” which is a tar-like filling/packing material inside the metal ballast casing. Any PCB-containing FLBs that are still in use have exceeded their designed life span and are now a concern if they are leaking. Even old intact FLBs may emit small amounts of PCBs into the air during normal use according to the EPA.
“For many people in California, it’s a surprise to learn that PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts could be in their home, office or child’s school if it was built before the late 1970s,” said Joseph Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at LA Testing. “It’s a concern because PCBs do not readily break down and can bioaccumulate in living organisms, including humans. PCBs have been identified as probable human carcinogens and may cause a variety of other non-cancer health effects. This is why FLBs that contain PCBs are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).”
To identify PCBs in FLBs, or to assess indoor or outdoor environmental samples for the chemicals, LA Testing offers comprehensive laboratory testing services for these and many other regulated and hazardous substances. LA Testing has even sponsored an educational video about PCBs and fluorescent light ballasts that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/eBAhbtV8lEE.
To learn more about PCB testing services or to request sampling supplies, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com or call (800) 755-1794.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: : AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro, San Diego and Ontario.