There are no laws expressly forbidding you from removing PCB’s yourself. However, PCB’s can negatively impact both human health and the environment. They are known to cause cancer and to adversely affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. In addition, PCB’s do not easily break down, and therefore remain in the environment for a long time. They cycle between air, water, and soil, can accumulate in small organisms as well as leaves and the above-ground parts of plants and food crops, and can be carried a long way from the source of the contamination. Therefore, it is very important that PCB’s are removed safely and disposed of properly. For this reason, the EPA strongly recommends that PCB removal be carried out by an experienced contractor.
Even if PCB’s are removed by an experienced contractor, it is important that the removal process is carried out properly and safely in order to protect the environment, your health, and the health of others. All caulk that contains more than 50 ppm of PCB’s, or any materials coated with such caulk, must be removed. Caulk containing less than 50 ppm of PCB’s does not need to be removed. When removing PCB-containing caulk, protective clothing such as facemasks and gloves should be worn at all times in order to prevent injury. After the caulk has been removed, it must be managed and disposed of as a “PCB bulk product waste.”
Florescent light ballasts are a common source of PCBs. The EPA does not necessarily recommend an experienced contractor to remove PCB light ballasts, but any person performing this task should be properly trained. Therefore, if you or any of your building’s staff have training in this area, there is no reason why you should not be able to remove PCB containing ballasts yourself. If neither you nor any of your building staff have such training, it is recommended that you hire an experienced contractor. Before removing PCB light ballasts, you should disconnect all power and de-energize the ballasts (this should be done under the supervision of a licensed electrician). It is important to inspect the ballasts for any signs of leakage before they are removed. Leaking ballasts should be separated from non-leaking ballasts for packing and disposal. Always wear proper personal protective equipment when handling PCB containing ballasts. When removing the ballasts, you should have appropriate containers and packing materials ready to place the ballasts in to minimize the possibility of other materials becoming contaminated with PCB’s. After the ballasts are removed, they must be packaged according to all federal, state, and local regulations. They should then be stored safely until they can be disposed of. In addition, detailed records should be kept of all removed PCB-containing light ballasts. These records should indicate the date of removal, how many ballasts were removed from each area, where the ballasts were located, and how many ballasts were leaking. You should include the person or company performing the work, and information regarding the manifesting and location of disposal.
Apart from caulk and fluorescent light ballasts, PCB’s can often be found in electrical transformers and capacitors in some older appliances (air conditioners are a common example). Again, it is important to ware proper protective clothing and equipment at all times when removing PCB-containing capacitors. After removal, PCB-containing capacitors should of course be packaged in approved containers, stored, and disposed of according to all federal, state, and local regulations.