Soil contamination from PCB-containing buildings.BACKGROUND: Polychlorinated biphenyls polychlorinated biphenyls, (pol´ēklôr´nā´tid bīfē´n (PCBs) in construction materials, such as caulking caulk·ing
A usually impermeable substance used for caulking. Also called caulking compound.
Noun 1. caulking - a waterproof filler and sealant that is used in building and repair to make watertight
caulk used around windows and expansion joints, may constitute a source of PCB PCB: see polychlorinated biphenyl.
in full polychlorinated biphenyl
Any of a class of highly stable organic compounds prepared by the reaction of chlorine with biphenyl, a two-ring compound. contamination in the building interiors and in surrounding soil. Several studies of soil contamination Soil contamination is the presence of man-made chemicals or other alteration in the natural soil environment. This type of contamination typically arises from the rupture of underground storage tanks, application of pesticides, percolation of contaminated surface water to have been conducted around buildings where the caulking has been removed by grinding or scraping. The PCBs in soil may have been generated in the process of removing the caulking, but natural weathering and deterioration of the caulking may have also been a source.
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to measure PCB levels in soil surrounding buildings where PCB-containing caulk caulk also calk
v. caulked also calked, caulk·ing also calk·ing, caulks also calks
1. was still in place, and to evaluate the mobility of the PCBs from caulking using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) is a soil sample extraction method for chemical analysis.
An analytical method to simulate leaching through a landfill. The leachate is analysed for appropriate substances. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), independent agency of the U.S. government, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1970 to reduce and control air and water pollution, noise pollution, and radiation and to ensure the safe handling and Method 1311).
DISCUSSION: We found soil PCB contamination ranging from 3.3 to 34 mg/kg around buildings with undisturbed caulking that contained 10,000-36,200 mg/kg PCBs. The results of the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (leachate leach·ate
A product or solution formed by leaching, especially a solution containing contaminants picked up through the leaching of soil. concentrations of 76-288 mg PCB/L) suggest that PCBs in caulking can be mobilized, apparently as complexes with dissolved organic matter that also leach off the caulking material.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Although these new findings are based on a small sample size, they demonstrate the need for a national survey of PCBs in building materials Building materials used in the construction industry to create .
These categories of materials and products are used by and construction project managers to specify the materials and methods used for . and in soil surrounding these buildings. Because the buildings constructed during the time the PCB caulking was in use (1960s and 1970s) include schools, hospitals, and apartment buildings, the potential for exposure of children is a particular concern. It is necessary to reconsider the practice of disposing of old PCB caulking removed during building renovations in conventional landfills, given the apparent mobility of PCBs from the caulking material. Disposal of some caulking material in nonhazardous landfills might lead to high PCB levels in landfill leachate.
KEY WORDS: caulk, environmental exposure, leachability, PCB, polychlorinated biphenyl polychlorinated biphenyl or PCB, any of a group of organic compounds originally widely used in industrial processes but later found to be dangerous environmental pollutants. , public buildings, schools, soil. Environ Health Perspect 115: 173-175 (2007). doi:10.1289/ehp.9646 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 6 November 2006]
In June 2004, we reported the results of a study in which we found elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in building caulking materials used around windows and in expansion joints in masonry buildings (Herrick et al. 2004). Our investigation of 24 buildings in the Greater Boston Greater Boston is the area of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts surrounding the city of Boston, Massachusetts. While Metro Boston tends to be the "Inner Core" surrounding the City of Boston, Greater Boston overlaps the North and South Shores, as well as the MetroWest region. (Massachusetts) area revealed that one-third (8 of 24) contained caulking materials with PCB content > 50 ppm (mg/kg) by weight. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA EPA eicosapentaenoic acid.
n.pr See acid, eicosapentaenoic.
n. ) considers materials exceeding 50 ppm PCB that were not specifically authorized for use by the U.S. EPA to be "unauthorized-use" nonliquid PCB products that require removal and decontamination decontamination /de·con·tam·i·na·tion/ (de?kon-tam-i-na´shun) the freeing of a person or object of some contaminating substance, e.g., war gas, radioactive material, etc.
n. (U.S. EPA 1998). PCB bulk product waste is defined as
waste derived from manufactured products containing PCBs in a non-liquid state, at any concentration where the concentration at the time of designation for disposal was [greater than or equal to] 50 ppm PCBs.... PCB bulk product waste includes, but is not limited to ... [n]on-liquid bulk wastes or debris from the demolition of buildings and other man-made structures manufactured, coated, or serviced with PCBs. (U.S. EPA 1998)
Results similar to those found in Boston have been reported by investigators examining buildings in Germany, Finland, and Sweden (Balfanz et al. 1993; Burkhardt et al. 1990; Coghlan et al. 2002; Corner et al. 2002; Fromme et al. 1996; Pyy and Lyly 1998). In Switzerland, a national survey focused on concrete (masonry) buildings found that almost half of all such buildings erected between 1955 and 1975 (1,348 buildings sampled) contained joint sealants (caulking) with PCB concentrations of 20-550,000 mg/kg (Zennegg et al. 2004).
Priha et al. (2005) sampled soil around 11 buildings from which PCB-containing caulking had been removed and reported total PCB concentrations in soil of 0.11-26.9 mg/kg. The highest PCB concentrations were in areas closest to the buildings, and they declined as the distance increased. The average PCB concentration in samples taken within 2 m of the buildings was 6.83 mg/kg; at 3-10 m from the walls, it was 0.52 mg/kg. The highest soil concentrations were found on the southern side of the buildings (average concentrations: south, 16.6 mg/kg; west, 2.00 mg/kg; east, 2.39 mg/kg; north, 3.96 mg/kg). Priha et al. (2005) concluded that
The area south of these buildings is more contaminated than those in other directions, and, therefore, the weathering of sealants is probably an important mechanism in the spread of PCBs to the surroundings.
However the old caulking had been abated in these buildings. Grinding of the old caulking material to remove it from the building masonry joints could also have contributed to the finding of soil contamination.
At a New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of State elementary school elementary school: see school. constructed in 1969, PCB-containing caulking (60,000 mg/kg) was removed during window replacement in 2003 (Whitaker 2005). Wipe samples were taken inside and outside the school. Indoor sampling locations included classroom floors, walls, and windows as well as inside the ventilation system ventilation system Public health An air system designed to maintain negative pressure and exhaust air properly, to minimize the spread of TB and other respiratory pathogens in a health care facility . Outdoor sampling locations consisted mainly of windows, but also included the surrounding soil to determine the contamination into the surrounding environment. Surface concentrations on the outside of the building measured via wipe samples ranged from 0.92 [micro]g/100 [cm.sup.2] (alcove above the boiler room boiler room n. a telephone bank operation in which fast-talking telemarketers or campaigners attempt to sell stock, services, goods, or candidates and act as if they are calling from an established company or brokerage. ) to 34 [micro]g/100 [cm.sup.2] (outdoor window sill (Arch.) the flat piece of wood, stone, or the like, at the bottom of a window frame.
See also: Window ). The U.S. EPA (1998) considers a surface to be contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object. if concentrations exceed 10 [micro]g/100 [cm.sup.2]. Whitaker (2005) reported PCB levels in indoor wipe samples ranging from 0.22 [micro]g/100 [cm.sup.2] (classroom) to 2.3 [micro]g/100 [cm.sup.2] (plenum of exhaust system Noun 1. exhaust system - system consisting of the parts of an engine through which burned gases or steam are discharged
automobile engine - the engine that propels an automobile ). Soil contamination of 0.96-40.0 mg/kg (eight samples) was also found. The caulking material in other parts of the building was not replaced, although it was visibly deteriorated (an example from the present study is shown in Figure 1). As in the case of the Finnish buildings studied by Priha et al. (2005), the soil contamination could have been caused by weathering of the caulking, but the generation of PCB-containing particles during scraping and grinding to remove the old caulking material could not be ruled out as a source.
For the present study our objectives were to measure PCB levels in soil surrounding buildings where PCB-containing caulk was still in place, and to evaluate the mobility of the PCBs from caulking using the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure [U.S. EPA Method 1311 (U.S. EPA 1992)].
We identified three buildings (designated A, B, and C) where PCB-containing caulk appeared to be present. In the opinion of an experienced bricklayer (G.W.) who examined these buildings, the PCB-containing caulking had not been disturbed or removed from the walls we selected for sampling. These three buildings were typical of masonry buildings constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. One was a university family-housing unit, and the other two were schools. We sampled the caulking, and at each building we also sampled surface soil at a distance of approximately 30 cm from the building foundation. PCB content of both the caulking and soil samples was determined in accordance with U.S. EPA Method 8082 (U.S. EPA 2000).
In order to assess the mobility of PCBs from samples of caulking material, we used the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure [TCLP TCLP Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (US EPA)
TCLP total concentrate leachate procedure
TCLP Type Classification Limited Procurement
TCLP Type Classification Limited Production ; U.S. EPA Method 1311 (U.S. EPA 1992)]. Of the three buildings where we had collected paired caulking and soil samples, we had only the recommended amount of caulking material (100 g) from building A to conduct the procedure, so we selected 2 other caulking samples from the original set of 24 that we tested in 2004 (Herrick et al. 2004). This test was designed to simulate leachate generation from a material if it were co-disposed with municipal solid waste “Municipal waste” redirects here. For other uses, see Municipal waste (disambiguation).
Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a waste type that includes predominantly household waste (domestic waste) with sometimes the addition of commercial wastes collected by a in a nonhazardous waste landfill (U.S. EPA 1998). The extraction liquid simulates municipal solid waste leachate. Although these are not the conditions to which intact caulking would be subjected during natural weathering in a building, this test does determine the mobility of analytes in liquid, solid, and multiphasic waste; it is used to determine whether PCB bulk product waste can be disposed of in nonhazardous waste landfills. We postulated that the finding of PCBs in the caulking leachate would suggest a possible pathway between the caulking material and soil. Each of these three caulking samples had PCB content > 5,000 mg/kg in the bulk material.
The analysis of the bulk caulking material from the three buildings yielded the following results: building A, 36,200 mg/kg; building B, 10,000 mg/kg; building C, 14,800 mg/kg. Soil analysis for PCB in the soil surrounding these buildings found 34 mg/kg at building A; 3.3 mg/kg at building B; and 3.4 mg/kg at building C.
Caulking samples from the three buildings subjected to the TCLP contained 36,200 mg/kg (building 1, which was the same as building A), 5,010 mg/kg (building 2), and 5,970 (building 3). Analysis of the extract from the three samples analyzed by the TCLP found PCBs at 76 mg/L (building 1), 137 mg/L (building 2), and 288 mg/L (building 3). These levels exceed by a factor of at least 7,600 the 10-[micro]g/L limit for the result of leachate tests that allows PCB bulk product waste to be disposed of in nonhazardous waste landfills (U.S. EPA 1998).
In 2004, we found that 8 of 24 buildings sampled in the Greater Boston Area contained caulking material with > 50 ppm PCB, with the highest level of 36,200 ppm (Herrick et al. 2004). The findings from studies in Finland (Priha et al. 2005) and the investigation at the PCB-containing school in New York (Whitaker 2005) strongly suggest that this caulking material can be a source of soil contamination around the outside perimeter of these buildings. In these cases, however, the caulking had been removed from the buildings before testing for soil contamination. Because the process of removing the caulking includes scraping, grinding, and other steps that may aerosolize the PCB-containing material, the source of the soil contamination could not be established. Natural weathering and deterioration of the caulking over the almost 30 years it was in the building walls may have contributed, but soil contamination from the removal process could not be ruled out.
In the present study, we selected walls of buildings where the caulking had apparently never been disturbed. We found PCB soil contamination around these buildings, and the results of the TCLP demonstrate that PCBs appear to be readily mobilized from the caulking. The TCLP results should be interpreted with caution because the procedure is designed to simulate conditions in municipal solid waste landfills and not natural weathering. Because the PCB concentrations in the extracts from the TCLP far exceed the aqueous solubility solubility
Degree to which a substance dissolves in a solvent to make a solution (usually expressed as grams of solute per litre of solvent). Solubility of one fluid (liquid or gas) in another may be complete (totally miscible; e.g. of PCBs (generally around 0.1-10 [micro]g/L, depending on the congener congener /con·ge·ner/ (kon´je-ner) something closely related to another thing, as a member of the same genus, a muscle having the same function as another, or a chemical compound closely related to another in composition and exerting ), we believe that the PCBs apparently exist as complexes with dissolved organic matter that also leached off the caulking material.
Although the concentration of PCBs in the bulk caulking samples appeared to be a reasonable predictor of the amount of PCBs found in the soil around the buildings containing the caulking, the amount of PCBs released by the TCLP extraction procedure was not related to the PCB content of the bulk material. This may be a result of the small number of samples we examined. Given that the caulking material is at least 30 years old, it may be degraded to the point that the PCBs, which were plasticizers plasticizers
mostly triaryl phosphates, such as tricresyl, triphenyl phosphates, which are poisonous. See also triorthocresyl phosphate. in the original polysulfide polymer polysulfide polymer (pol´ēsul´fīd pol´imur),
n a rubber base impression material that makes use of a mercaptan bondage. formulations, can be mobilized into solution. In some cases, the caulking has clearly lost its elasticity (Figure 1) and the extent of degradation in any caulking material sample may be a better predictor of the amount of PCBs that can be mobilized than the bulk PCBs content of the caulk.
Our findings suggest that the most likely cause of soil contamination found around these PCB-containing buildings is natural weathering. PCBs appear to be mobilized from the caulking as part of a complex with dissolved organic material. The practice of disposing of old PCB caulking removed during building renovations in conventional landfills should be reconsidered, given the apparent mobility of PCBs from the caulking material. Disposal of this caulking material in nonhazardous waste landfills could lead to high PCB levels in landfill leachate. In 2004 we recommended a random probability-based survey of schools, hospitals, and other masonry buildings constructed or renovated during the time PCB-containing caulking was in use, to assess the extent to which this material is still in place (Herrick et al. 2004). Although our study is small, these new findings suggest that this survey should include measurement of PCBs in soil surrounding buildings where PCB caulking is present and an assessment of the risk that this material may pose, especially to children in schools and other buildings where soil contamination is found.
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tr.v. pre·fab·ri·cat·ed, pre·fab·ri·cat·ing, pre·fab·ri·cates
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v. taint·ed, taint·ing, taints
1. To affect with or as if with a disease.
2. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.
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Robert F. Herrick, (1) Daniel J. Lefkowitz, (2) and George A. Weymouth (3)
(1) Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health The Harvard School of Public Health is (colloquially, HSPH) is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Longwood Area of the Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood of Mission Hill, next to Harvard Medical School and Cambridge, Massachusetts, , Boston, Massachusetts “Boston” redirects here. For other uses, see Boston (disambiguation).
Boston is the capital and most populous city of Massachusetts. The largest city in New England, Boston is considered the unofficial economic and cultural center of the entire New , USA; (2) pcbinschools.org, Yorktown, New York Yorktown is a town in Westchester County, New York, in the suburbs of New York City about 38 miles north of midtown Manhattan. The population was 36,318 at the 2000 census. The town is named after the Battle of Yorktown near Yorktown, Virginia. , USA; (3) International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft Workers, Local 3 (Retired), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Address correspondence to R.F. Herrick, Department of Environmental Health, Landmark Center
Landmark Center in Boston, Massachusetts is a commercial center situated in an art deco building built in 1929 for Sears, Roebuck and Company. , 401 Park Dr., Room 404E, Boston, MA 02215 USA. Telephone: (617) 384-8803. Fax: (617) 384-8849.
This study was supported in part by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health,
n.pr an institute of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is responsible for assuring safe and healthful working conditions and for developing standards of safety and health. through the Harvard Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health, grant T42 008416-02.
The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.
Received 23 August 2006; accepted 6 November 2006.