DE  |  EN

Building Contaminants | Picture Data Base

PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls)

Building Interior: Sealing Compounds

Sealing compounds

The use of PCB in building materials occurred mainly during the 1960's and 1970's. Its use in „open applications“ was banned in 1978  and its manufacture in Germany (Old Federal States) was no longer permitted after 1983. As opposed to smaller residential buildings PCB containing sealing compounds were mainly implemented in large blocks of flats constructed of prefabricated elements. This mainly applies to exterior applications but PCB containing compounds are still sometimes found within the interior of buildings. This picture shows an interior joint filled with sealing compound.

Sealing compounds

Close-up of previous photo.

Sealing compounds

Joint fillings are often painted over.

Building Exterior

Sealing compounds

PCB containing sealing compound within a joint between two washed concrete slabs. PCB was used between the 1950's to 1970's as a softener to improve the elasticity of sealing compounds. Although the open application was banned in the Old Federal States  in 1978 it is still known to have been occasionally used until  1980's owing to foreign imports. PCB containing sealing compounds were not produced in the former German Democratic Republic.

Sealing compounds

PCB containing sealing compound (also called Thiokol) between to washed aggregate concrete slabs.

Sealing compounds

Sealing compounds were used to fill joints at window frames and balcony doors. The sealing compounds containing PCB had a matt surface and were very ductile. Elastic silicon and acryl sealing compounds have a smooth more shiny appearance. Linseed oil compounds (e.g. putty) that have a similar colour may be recognised by there smell. The risk to building occupants due to exterior PCB containing compounds at window frames and doors is reported to be very small. However in scarce cases where such sealing compounds have been applied at prefabricated slab buildings enhanced PCB levels (trigger value = 300 ng/m³) are known to occur  within the indoor air. The limit value for PCB within indoor air is set at 3000 ng/m³. PCB containing waste occurring during demolition has to be classified as hazardous waste.

PCB Containing Cooling Oil : Capacitors

Capacitors

PCB containing capacitors were in use in fluorescent lamps until 1983. PCB vapour may be released to indoor air owing to leakage or over heating of capacitors.

Capacitors

PCB containing capacitors in old fluorescent lamps and other electric appliances can contain between  50g - 200g PCB. Some PCB containing capacitors are recognizable by the letters  CD, CI, CP, A30 or A40.

 

Reactive power compensation unit with capacitors.

Reactive power compensation units are required in buildings where large spaces are illuminated by fluorescent  tubes or where numerous powerful electrically driven machines are in operation. The construction date of the capacitors shown on this photo is unknown.

Capacitors

The reactive power compensation unit shown on this photo was recently installed and contains new electric components. The capacitors are not likely to contain PCB as the use and manufacture of PCB was banned in Germany in 1989.

Capacitors

Switchboard belonging to a lift drive.

Capacitors

Close-up of previous photo.

Transformers

Transformers

The use of PCB in building materials was banned in Germany in 1978 but its application in closed systems such as transformers and capacitors was still permitted. After 1983 the production of PCB was no longer allowed in Old Federal States. The ban on PCB was generally extended to the rest of Germany in 1989 subsequent to Germany's reunion. In this example the transformer was constructed in 1993 (see next photo) and is therefore not suspected to contain PCB.

Transformers

Close up of previous photo. The label of the transformer indicates the year of construction to be 1993. The year of construction is an important criterion when determining whether a transformer might be cooled with PCB containing cooling oil. A further essential piece of information is the indication of the type of cooling i.e. whether the transformer is air cooled or oil cooled. For example "ONAN" means the following : ON = internal cooling cycle uses oil (O) with natural (N) convection; AN = outer cooling cycle uses air (A) with natural convection. In this case the transformer is therefore oil cooled and requires no additional oil pump or ventilator. Dry transformers have the letters "AN" .

Transformers

Decommissioned transformer constructed in the former UdSSR (see next photo).

Transformers

Label attached to the transformer shown on the previous photo. It indicates that the transformer contains 350kg cooling oil. The date of construction is 1982.

Transformer in operation.

Normally transformers are not accessible for safety reasons.

Acoustic Ceiling Tiles

PCB containing paint

Man made mineral fibre (MMMF) ceiling tiles. Sometimes a certain type of ceiling tile (Wilhelmi-Platten) produced before 1972 was coated at the factory with a permeable PCB containing paint. This improved the fire resistance of the tile. Rooms with such ceiling tiles are liable to have contaminated indoor air.

TOP

LEGAL NOTICE

PRIVACY POLICY

PICTURE DATA BASE