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Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's)

102. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Commercial Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are mixtures that were once widely manufactured by combining chlorine gas, iron fillings, and biphenyls. Their high stability contributes to their intended commercial applications and their long-term adverse environmental and health effects. PCB’s are useful as insulators in electrical equipment because they are electrically nonconductive. Their distribution has been limited since 1976. Although PCB-containing equipment is no longer manufactured, it can still be found in use (such as in transformers, capacitors of lab & x-ray equipment).


  • Fluids that contain at least 50 ppm of PCBs are regulated as PCBs and must be disposed of in a permitted PCB disposal facility.
  • Know the content of dielectric fluids used in these types of equipment before disposal of the fluid. If in doubt, have the fluid tested.
  • Any leaking fluorescent light ballasts that do not state “No PCB’s” on the original manufacturers label should be considered to contain PCB’s. Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office (EH&S) at 2-2185 for disposal.
  • Avoid contact with the leaking liquid from a PCB ballast and cover any equipment below with a large trash bag to prevent contamination.
  • Any leaking oils should be checked for PCBs by the EH&S Office.
  • Appropriate measures must be followed regarding the cleanup and notification procedures regarding PCBs.
  • Label all PCB-containing equipment with the PCB content of the fluid.
  • Prior to disposal of PCB-containing equipment and fluids, contact EH&S at         2-2185.
  • For large projects requiring the removal of a large amount of PCB ballasts the EH&S Office needs to be contacted to provide DOT-approved steel drums for the transportation of hazardous solids.    


  • If you have PCB-containing equipment, consider implementing a disposal and replacement program.
  • For specific requirements related to storage, inspection, training, record keeping, disposal or removal, consult regulatory requirements related to PCBs.