Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 14:12:56 EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**CS.COM
Subject: Re: NY School

Since people do seem interested in the PCBs, here's part of the EPA's 1999 list from one of my publications--which as usual, anyone can have free for an SASE. 

" ...some wool felt insulating materials, plastics, paint formulations, small rubber parts, adhesive tape, insulating materials used in electrical cabling, fluorescent light ballast potting materials, gaskets in heating, ventilation and air conditioning and other duct systems, caulking, coatings for ceiling tiles, flooring and floor wax/sealants, roofing and siding materials, adhesives, waterproofing compounds, anti-fouling compounds, fire retardant coatings, coal-tar enamel coatings for steel water pipe and underground storage tanks ..., and any number of other chemicals uses such as additives and plasticizers."

I left out some of the uses like the boilers for space.  In addition, the last part of the FR entry goes into more detail on the percentages reported in some of these materials.   It is in the Federal Register, vol. 64, pp 69358=E2=80=9369364, December 10, 1999; quote is from p. 69359.   I have many other interesting articles and citations, but this is where the most information is pulled together in one place.

The EPA did not list one use you can still see today.  Pure PCBs (Aroclor 1254) are sometimes used in schools and museums that make and maintain permanent or historic slide collections.  Some used balsam as a medium for slide mounting, but it yellows and degrades with age.  If the slides still look great.......chances are really good that the medium between the cover and the slide is Aroclor 1254.  It used to be done by heating the stuff to get it to flow all around the object.  Then the cover was dropped on, the slide was cooled so the PCBs harden, and the excess was ground off the sides of the slide, sometimes out in the open on a flat wheel.  The PCB contaminated grit and dust was usually not handled as a toxic waste!   I dearly hope people are not still doing this. If they are, they probably know enough not to tell you and me about it.

I am aware of huge collections of 10s of thousands of slides all done with Aroclor.  Imagine if that slide cabinet room was involved in a fire.  If the soot got loose, the rest of the building would not be abatable.  And some of those buildings where these collections are housed are famous historic sites.

Check around.  I still find jars of Aroclor 1254.  Besides, if you really want some, you can still buy it.  I checked about 6 months ago that there was still some available.

As for the amounts of PCBs in the air in schools, see the pilot study of NYC schools. And they also did some wipe samples for the less volatile ones that stay in the dust.  Remember that every time you abate old paint or caulking, residual dust is a potential source of both lead and PCBs.   And since the PCBs were often used in higher amounts in the non-lead polymer paints, you can't always predict where you'll run into them.

If that were not enough, I know of famous historic buildings that cannot afford to abate their lead paints because asbestos was used as a texturing agent in them.  They sure as hell are not including this information in their PR and press releases.  Ah me.  More information for my last book to be published post humously.


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