Health and environmental aspects of contamination due to old PCB containing sealants
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Health and environmental aspects of contamination due to old PCB containing sealants. Eero Priha, Tiina Rantio, Beatrice Bäck, Riitta Riala, Helena Kontsas and Sannamari Hellman* Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 486, 33101 Tampere, Finland E-mail: eero.priha@ttl.fi

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Health and environmental aspects of contamination due to old PCB containing sealants

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Health and environmental aspects of contamination due to old PCB containing sealants

  • Eero Priha, Tiina Rantio, Beatrice Bäck, Riitta Riala, Helena Kontsas and Sannamari Hellman* Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 486, 33101 Tampere, Finland

    E-mail: eero.priha@ttl.fi

    *Tampere University of Technology, PO Box 527, 33101 Tampere


PCB in sealants

  • PCB-containing elastic polysulfide sealants used in Finland between 1960-1975 in prefabricated concrete buildings estimated use of PCB 220 tons in over 10000 buildings


Quality and quantity of PCB

  • PCB content of sealant typically 10-20 % !

  • Mainly highly chlorinated PCB, Aroclor1260, sometimes Aroclor 1254

  • Concentration of dioxin-like PCBs low

  • Large prefabricated buildings may contain 100 kg PCB, normally 25-40 kg


Situation today 2003

  • About 85 % of old sealant replaced with new PCB-free material Soil near buildings contaminated with PCBs Instructions given by authorities how to treat old sealant and contaminated soil


Exposure of workers

  • About 150-300 workers involded in removal of old sealants in Finland Grinding of old seam exposes workers to high concentrations of PCB containing dust


Protection of workers


Soil sampling - PCB

  • Over 100 top soil samples taken from yards of 5 apartment buildings (sealant removed 1-3 years ago) Grid sampling plan was applied, combined samples


PCB concentration in soil vs. distance from wall


PCB in soil / summary

  • Average concentration 6,8 mg/kg soil at 0-2 m from wall Average concentration 0,52 mg/kg at distance of 3-10 m PCB exceeds the Finnish limit value 0,5 mg/kg recommended by the Finnish Environment Agency ---> risk assesment needed


What should be done ?

  • PCB not an immediate health risk and long-term risks are low. However, PCB will stay in yard soil for tens of years.

  • Some recommendations or guidelines needed to reduce exposure!


Recommendations by Finnish environment authorities

  • Playgrounds/sandboxes should be moved from the vicinity of the walls (< 5 m) to other places

  • Gardening of edible fruit prohibited near walls

  • Other vegetation (decorative bushes/trees) recommended


Earlier guidelines 1999

  • Sealant from houses built between 1959-1980 should be studied for PCB content

  • If sealant contains PCB over 50 mg/kg, should be treated as hazardous waste

  • Removal of old sealant should be done following strict rules (windows should be closed, soil covered with plastic etc.)


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