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Detecting PCBs in Building Materials to Protect the Public, Workers and the Environment

Clark Seif Clark provides testing and consulting services to identify polychlorinated biphenyls and other hazardous substances to prevent exposure risks and to help companies comply with existing regulations.

Chatsworth, CA – WEBWIRE

Building materials suspected of containing PCBs should be tested directly for their presence and be properly removed if renovations are planned in a building according to the EPA.

In the United States, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were manufactured from 1929 until production was banned in 1979. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications. Unfortunately, PCBs have also been identified as probable human carcinogens and may also cause a variety of non-cancer health effects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes PCBs as belonging to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids.
The agency goes on to declare that although PCBs are no longer commercially produced in the United States, they may be present in products and materials produced before the ban. It has stated concerns about the potential widespread use of PCB-containing building materials in schools and other buildings constructed or renovated between about 1950 and 1979. Research results posted by the EPA about PCBs in school buildings, include the following: 

  • Caulk put in place between 1950 and 1979 may contain as much as 40% PCBs and can emit PCBs into the surrounding air. PCBs from caulk may also contaminate adjacent materials such as masonry or wood.
  • Fluorescent lighting fixtures that still contain their original PCB-containing light ballasts have exceeded their designed lifespan and the chance for rupture and emitting PCBs is significant.
  • Some building materials (e.g., paint and masonry walls) and indoor dust can absorb PCB emissions and become potential secondary sources for the chemicals. When the primary PCB-emitting sources are removed, the secondary sources often emit PCBs.

“Building materials suspected of containing PCBs should be tested directly for their presence and be properly removed if renovations are planned in a building according to the EPA,” said Jeff Bannon, Vice President of Environmental Services at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “At CSC, we offer PCB consulting, testing and monitoring services. This is essential for protecting workers, building occupants, the environment and to ensure companies comply with existing regulations for the proper handling and disposal of PCB-containing materials.”
CSC also recently sponsored an educational video about PCBs in building materials that can be seen at:
To learn more about PCBs or other building science, occupational, air quality, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 
About Clark Seif Clark
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address indoor air quality, occupational, environmental, and health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to industrial clients, healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

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 Industrial Hygiene
 Polychlorinated Biphenyls

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