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Polychlorinated biphenyl

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    TheSheenyMan started this thread.
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    Polychlorinated biphenyl

    I was heard that Polychlorinated biphenyl can be found in certain electrical parts and light ballasts. Someone who has more knowledge should enlighten us less experienced scrappers.


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    sounds likes this is PCB... dagerous stuff... I only take in NO PCB... for recycle.. others have to be dispose in a hazardous manner.. contact your city for hazardous waste..
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    It is PCB, and not something you want to play around with.

    Here in the United States it hasn't been used in the manufacture of electronics for a very long time. Unfortunately, if you are scrapping older electronics you are probably coming across PCBs. Because PCBs were used in older electronics, they also usually contain heavier gold plating if gold plating exists.

    There are a few refineries that deal with PCBs, they use an incineration process to recover the precious metals. But even then, they are usually strictly regulated.

    I have dealt with PCBs in the past, I prefer not to and will usually have them processed if and when I have other electronic boards processed. You shouldn't be keeping them at hand, or storing them for long periods of time as they do decompose and you could be breathing in PCBs. Whatever you do, you should not cut, saw, break them into pieces, burn them or subject them to any chemicals if you do not know what you are doing. PCBs can do all kinds of crazy things to you health wise. Although they might not outright kill you unless you are directly breathing in fumes that are being produced, they will seriously reduce your longevity.

    If you do have any electronic PC boards that use PCB in the components, you will want to dispose of them responsibly. I would strongly suggest checking with your state EPA requirements to make sure you are complying with local regulations and laws so far as storage of this type of material and proper responsible disposal. This isn't something you want to allow to sit out in the weather, as the boards and components decompose being exposed to the Sun's radiation, they release PCBs, then as fall and winter come along the water will wash PCBs off the components on the boards and into your environment. If you think about how things get transferred, you will soon realize that PCB washed off the electronics left outside, end up on the ground, then the bottom of your shoe, and eventually get transferred to the carpet in your car, your house, your bedroom, and that is just by shoe transfer.

    MSDS

    http://www.pcbdisposalinc.com/images/pdfs/PCBs-MSDS.pdf

    Scott
    Last edited by NobleMetalWorks; 07-14-2013 at 12:11 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NobleMetalWorks View Post
    It is PCB, and not something you want to play around with.

    Here in the United States it hasn't been used in the manufacture of electronics for a very long time. Unfortunately, if you are scrapping older electronics you are probably coming across PCBs. Because PCBs were used in older electronics, they also usually contain heavier gold plating if gold plating exists.

    There are a few refineries that deal with PCBs, they use an incineration process to recover the precious metals. But even then, they are usually strictly regulated.

    I have dealt with PCBs in the past, I prefer not to and will usually have them processed if and when I have other electronic boards processed. You shouldn't be keeping them at hand, or storing them for long periods of time as they do decompose and you could be breathing in PCBs. Whatever you do, you should not cut, saw, break them into pieces, burn them or subject them to any chemicals if you do not know what you are doing. PCBs can do all kinds of crazy things to you health wise. Although they might not outright kill you unless you are directly breathing in fumes that are being produced, they will seriously reduce your longevity.

    If you do have any electronic PC boards that use PCBs, you will want to dispose of them responsibly. I would strongly suggest checking with your state EPA requirements to make sure you are complying with local regulations and laws so far as storage of this type of material and proper responsible disposal. This isn't something you want to allow to sit out in the weather, as the boards decompose being exposed to the Sun's radiation, they release PCB, then as fall and winter come along the water will wash PCB off the boards and into your environment. If you think about how things get transferred, you will soon realize that PCB washed off boards left outside, end up on the ground, then the bottom of your shoe, and eventually get transferred to the carpet in your car, your house, your bedroom, and that is just by shoe transfer.

    MSDS

    http://www.pcbdisposalinc.com/images/pdfs/PCBs-MSDS.pdf

    Scott
    This is interesting, Scott. Do you have any specific info on boards that may contain PCBs. I worked on high power radars in the early 80's. The only components that we had to watch out for were those containing dielectric oil, such as in larger transformers, capacitors and inductors. The bigger, can-type capacitors may be suspect, but do the older boards themselves contain PCBs?

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    So what happens when these boards are just lumped in with other circuit boards that are delivered and shipped to recyclers? Is there a tolerance level for these when processed? Is there detection equipment for this? It would be prohibitive to go through circuit boards one by one.

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    Ryan someone is eventually going to sort thru those boards, so while it may get past the initial buyer it will get picked up somewhere down the line so its best if you don't lump them in. I know my local buyer goes thru each board to make sure they are classed correctly and I am sure a buyer like Ewasted has people that do the same. I also know that the big refiners also can detect hazardous materials in their processes and will deduct from the payout since they then have to deal with properly disposing of the waste.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otto View Post
    This is interesting, Scott. Do you have any specific info on boards that may contain PCBs. I worked on high power radars in the early 80's. The only components that we had to watch out for were those containing dielectric oil, such as in larger transformers, capacitors and inductors. The bigger, can-type capacitors may be suspect, but do the older boards themselves contain PCBs?
    Generally speaking they are not usually the PC boards that are green, or anything made in the US after I believe it's 1977 or 79. I had some boards that came out of an F-16 not long back that were white, so I had them processed as if they contained PCBs, they ended up being a different type of high density resin board that looked older, but was not, but anytime I see the old yellow PC boards, I always treat them as if they have PCB containing components on the board..

    Anything old, anything that has a white/yellow, brown, beige, black PC board I treat as if it has PCB components.

    Scott
    Last edited by NobleMetalWorks; 07-14-2013 at 12:09 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanw View Post
    So what happens when these boards are just lumped in with other circuit boards that are delivered and shipped to recyclers? Is there a tolerance level for these when processed? Is there detection equipment for this? It would be prohibitive to go through circuit boards one by one.
    Good question Ryan,

    Because of the nature of e-scrap, and the way it's processed, the California, and for that matter Federal EPA has very strict requirements that people who process e-scrap have to be licensed for. Part of the process involved incineration, and this is another reason why the laws governing incineration are so very strict.

    So to answer your question, yes they are accounted for in the way that all PC boards are processed. I don't have the ability, nor the license to incinerate, I hope to someday, I have the correct venting and dry fume scrubbing equipment to do so but I don't have the incineration equipment, and then to be licensed to do so in the state of California is almost like pulling teeth out of a lions mouth. But anyway, during the incineration processes, the PCB is burned off and either ends up in the resulting ash in it's composite forms, or in the wet/dry fume scrubbing system after being incinerated. The the resulting material is either neutralized on the premises or it's sent off to a company that specifically deals with hazardous waste.

    If processed and disposed of properly, I would say that probably 99% of what PCB is, will be neutralized, it's when people process this type of material in a BBQ, in their backyard for example, that they get into our environment.

    Scott

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRASSCATCHER View Post
    Ryan someone is eventually going to sort thru those boards, so while it may get past the initial buyer it will get picked up somewhere down the line so its best if you don't lump them in. I know my local buyer goes thru each board to make sure they are classed correctly and I am sure a buyer like Ewasted has people that do the same. I also know that the big refiners also can detect hazardous materials in their processes and will deduct from the payout since they then have to deal with properly disposing of the waste.
    This is also true, in a lot of states they are required by law to classify certain types of e-waste by certain standards.

    It's not what happens to the boards downstream that matter so much as how they are processed and stored prior to that. So many people do not for example store their material on pallets so that the gayloards are not soaking up moisture, and that's a way some things are transferred, some store outside, and worse uncovered, and that's another way that things are transferred. If you are responsible in the way you retain this type of material until you send it downstream, then you have at least done your part, and are not polluting your own environment.

    Scott

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    We should zero in on what exactly contains PCB on the boards...

    I have been following this thread with interest, having dealt with PCB-containing industrial equipment in the past. (Disclaimer: I'm located in Canada, so laws may be a little different.)

    With the exception of Otto, I have not seen any discussion about the location of PCB's on boards or electronic parts. I am of the same understanding as him, in that PCB or PCB-containing oils is pretty well restricted to capacitors, where it is used as a dielectric (insulator).

    Here's my understanding of where you might find PCB's in electrical and electronic gear:
    1. In larger power transformers, which are oil-filled. The oil needs to be lab tested for the prescense or not of PCB's
    2. In capacitors. However, this is too general, since the PCB dielectric is too bulky for small, low voltage capacitors. I would limit the capacitors to watch out for as the larger ones, that are AC rated above 100V. These are quite often metal can capacitors. Virtually all modern capacitors that use an oil dielectric are noted "no pcb" on the label. You would see this kind of capacitor in an industrial lamp ballast.
    3. Fluorescent lamp ballasts. The only item within these ballasts that might contain PCB is the capacitor, but it is encapsulated inside the ballast so you can't see it. The newer ballasts say "no pcb" but you need a handbook to look up the older ones to see if they contain PCB or not.
    4. Any older power electronics that used high voltages, above 100V. This would be found in industrial electronics and would likely be in a metal can.

    As for military electronics, I have no direct experience, other than knowing they liked to use pure PCBs over mineral oils because the PCB was not particularly flammable. I would expect that similar methods would apply to spot the "bad actor" capacitors: metal can, higher voltage.

    I have never heard of PCB's being included in the manufacture of things like circuit boards.

    I would be interested to hear if I am wrong with any of my comments. But it sure isn't anything to be afraid of. Know the rules, know how to identify it in equipment, know how it must be stored and disposed of.

    Hope this helps,
    Jon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sawmilleng View Post
    I have been following this thread with interest, having dealt with PCB-containing industrial equipment in the past. (Disclaimer: I'm located in Canada, so laws may be a little different.)

    With the exception of Otto, I have not seen any discussion about the location of PCB's on boards or electronic parts. I am of the same understanding as him, in that PCB or PCB-containing oils is pretty well restricted to capacitors, where it is used as a dielectric (insulator).

    Here's my understanding of where you might find PCB's in electrical and electronic gear:
    1. In larger power transformers, which are oil-filled. The oil needs to be lab tested for the prescense or not of PCB's
    2. In capacitors. However, this is too general, since the PCB dielectric is too bulky for small, low voltage capacitors. I would limit the capacitors to watch out for as the larger ones, that are AC rated above 100V. These are quite often metal can capacitors. Virtually all modern capacitors that use an oil dielectric are noted "no pcb" on the label. You would see this kind of capacitor in an industrial lamp ballast.
    3. Fluorescent lamp ballasts. The only item within these ballasts that might contain PCB is the capacitor, but it is encapsulated inside the ballast so you can't see it. The newer ballasts say "no pcb" but you need a handbook to look up the older ones to see if they contain PCB or not.
    4. Any older power electronics that used high voltages, above 100V. This would be found in industrial electronics and would likely be in a metal can.

    As for military electronics, I have no direct experience, other than knowing they liked to use pure PCBs over mineral oils because the PCB was not particularly flammable. I would expect that similar methods would apply to spot the "bad actor" capacitors: metal can, higher voltage.

    I have never heard of PCB's being included in the manufacture of things like circuit boards.

    I would be interested to hear if I am wrong with any of my comments. But it sure isn't anything to be afraid of. Know the rules, know how to identify it in equipment, know how it must be stored and disposed of.

    Hope this helps,
    Jon.
    I think I need to clarify what I have stated before. Older PC boards of the colors I mentioned many times contain PCB. I am using the colors of PC boards used before 1979. Those boards are more likely to contain COMPONENTS that contain PCBs.

    Also, another common confusion in the acronym PCB is this. PCB can also be used to talk about Printed Circuit Boards. But is not the same as PCBs that are Polychlorinated biphenyl.

    If you see a board of tan, white, brown, black color, it's safer to assume some of the components contain PCBs that not. I also do not want to mislead anyone into believing that it's alright to remove these components because all the methods to de-solder also include heating these components up to the point they will create fumes. It's never good to heat up any PC boards if not well ventilated, but even more important if they are older boards with older components.

    Here are a few websites that will clarify anything that has been stated in this thread that may be confusing:

    Polychlorinated biphenyl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) (chemical compound) -- Encyclopedia Britannica

    PCB

    US Federal EPA page on PCBs

    Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)| Wastes | US EPA

    Federal CDC page on PCBs

    CDC - NIOSH Publications and Products - Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB's) (86-111)

    The Chemistry of Polychlorinated Biphenyls: PCB, The Manmade Chemicals That Won't Go Away (EnvironmentalChemistry.com)

    If you read the pages I have linked here, you not only will know more about PCBs than you ever wanted to know, but it should clear up any confusing in what I or anyone has posted before.

    Scott

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    I thank you all for this info.

    I for one wish to keep myself healthy and whole, and when you guys talk about stuff like this, dangers of refining, etc..It sure does help me keep that goal.

    Thanks to all in the thread, an the OP for bringing it up.

    Sirscrapalot - Prefers PB&J over PCBs

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  19. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sirscrapalot View Post
    Sirscrapalot - Prefers PB&J over PCBs
    I have to tell you, I read your posts not just because of the content, but also for your quotes. Your ability to insert humorous bits of wisdom in your one line sentences is truly an art.

    And they make me laugh, more than a few times I have had to wipe off my computer screen whatever it was I had in my mouth at the time. I have to make a point to remember NOT to read your posts while drinking or eating.

    Thanks for the good times!

    Scott

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    Scott,
    Thanks for the links. Also, I had completely missed the issue that PCB = printed circuit board, which is the more common anachronym on this forum!!

    Jon.

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    Interesting. I just took a load to my yard the other day, and I had maybe 5 florescent light fixtures (without bulbs of course), with the heavy ballasts. The lady who worked the ferrous yard saw them as we unloaded my car. She explained to me that I should remove the ballasts in the future, and that they'll take them upfront at the office. Lesson learned by this newbie. She didn't really say why, but now I know.




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