What we do
Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) coordinates the management and disposal of PCBs and PCB articles that are found on campus. EHS works closely with Facilities Services to identify PCB sources, remove these sources and respond to potential spills.
How you can help
Older fluorescent light ballasts are the most common source of PCBs on the University of Idaho campus. Ballasts manufactured before July 1, 1979 may contain PCBs. Ballasts manufactured between July 1, 1978 and July 1, 1998 that do not contain PCBs must be labeled "No PCBs".
Be alert to other potential sources of PCBs. Know how to handle potential PCB sources and how to respond to spills of potential PCB material.
Contact EHS if you have any questions or concerns about potential PCB items.
What are PCBs?
Polychlorinated biphenyls (or PCBs) are a group of colorless oils which were used extensively during the 50's, 60's and 70's in applications requiring highly stable oils possessing low conductivity and flammability properties. PCBs were used extensively in capacitors, transformers and heat transfer systems. PCBs were also used in vacuum pumps, hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, fire retardants, wax extenders, dusting removal agents, pesticide extenders, inks, lubricants, cutting oils and in carbonless reproducing paper.
Because of their toxicity and persistence in the environment, the domestic production of PCBs was banned in 1977. Toxic effects in humans include chloracne, pigmentation of the skin and nails, excessive eye discharge, swelling of the eyelids, distinctive hair follicles and gastrointestinal disturbances. PCBs are listed as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). PCBs and PCB containing articles are regulated by the EPA under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) and are not regulated as a hazardous waste. The PCB regulations, under TSCA, regulate the disposal of PCB articles (and PCBs) and regulate the cleanup of PCBs when released into the environment.