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Friday, December 13, 2013

EPA Provides Updated Guidance to Schools on PCB-containing Lighting Fixtures

Today's post was shared by US EPA News and comes from yosemite.epa.gov

 

Release Date: 12/12/2013
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing important guidance to school administrators and maintenance personnel on how to properly maintain and manage fluorescent lighting with ballasts that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Many older ballasts contain PCBs that can leak when the ballasts fail, leading to elevated levels of PCBs in the air of schools. While the elevated PCB levels should not represent an immediate threat, they could pose health concerns if they persist over time. Leaking ballasts must be removed and properly disposed of along with any part of the fixture that has been contaminated with PCBs. In schools across the country, most PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts have exceeded their life span and are beginning to leak and smoke. The guidance is part of the EPA’s ongoing efforts to address potential PCB exposures in schools.

      More than 150 incidents of leaking or smoking ballasts have been reported to the EPA from New York and New Jersey schools over the past 15 months. PCBs may cause cancer and have been shown to cause a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals, including effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.

      Lighting ballasts regulate the current to the lamps in fluorescent lights and provide sufficient voltage to start the lamps. Prior to 1979,...

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