PCBs in old ballasts?

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SuperSix
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PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby SuperSix » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:36 pm

I'm curious to know if any of our old ballasts contain PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls? I know the Americans on Lighting-Gallery get quite worried about it, regularly flapping about cause someone's got an old ballast filled with the stuff! :lol: It seems that all their old ballasts contained them are can be prone to failing and leaking. If you didn't know, PCBs can be absorbed into the body through skin, through the air or in contaminated water or food and remain in the body for months causing a number or health problems including cancer.

I've never heard anything said about British ballasts containing PCBs?

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Dez » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:46 pm

the cap in My 1956 BC fitting has PCB so does my 1955 3ft fitting's cap but I don't care as long it does not leek even than I wood just put some gloves on and wosh ewa the PCBs and get a new cap

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Re: PCBs in old ballats?

Postby Todd-uk » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:15 pm

Wash the PCBs away to where? Down the drain? hence to the sewage works and so on into a river or worses still back into drinking water? This is no laughing matter.

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Tom » Sun Jul 17, 2011 1:55 pm

Don't quote me on this guys, but I believe PCBs are in the old type PF caps which have the liquid/gel oil filling between the canister and the innards. It seems that most of our old ballasts have a solid dry resin or polyester based filling encasing the windings.
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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby sailormoon01uk » Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:21 pm

Yep early Open wound Ballast use PCB Based Varnish as a protection for the windings and lead in wires Later Encapulated Ballasts are different as they use Polyester Filling

Example This Vintage GEC 140w SOX lamp, which had to be burnt only in the horizontal position.">SO/H Sodium Ballast has PCB

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Kev » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:00 pm

I once remember a old 70s PP 8 foot cap had exploded and there was this sticky stuff that had flowed everywhere??? :? :? :?

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Dez » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:14 pm

I think that cap had PCB if it was from the erly 1970s BTW if it was you will be fine DieselNut has delt withe PCB befor withe bere hands and he still livs ;) :D

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby sailormoon01uk » Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:19 pm

PCB is OK to handle as long as you wash your hands thorougly, and avoid accidental ingestion

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Todd-uk » Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:39 pm

And so where does the hand washing waste water go? If you live in say London it'll get drunk over and over before it goes out to sea.

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Kev » Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:54 pm

Hmmmm well what do you do if it can't be washed off? That's got me thinking now imagine all the sh!t that gets washed down the drain in London and re-digested!!! :? :o :shock:

Also was working on a flood light today where the ignitor had spewed it's guts? Any idea what the filling stuff is? Looked like putty??
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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby sailormoon01uk » Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:17 pm

Good Question, also what I am concerned is PCB oil is used by the Gallons in Oiled Filled Transformers, say in Electricity Substations, etc, I have seen them in Scrap Yards at the Docks in Liverpool awaiting Shipping to India/China or other country, Ive known Fired to break out in Scrap yards, and what is concerned if the Toxic Fumes produced in Fires and when they extiguish the Fires, where does the Foam, Water etc goes, straight down the drain into the rain water sytem, thius goes straight into the Strams Rivers Sea etc

At least with water drained through the Sinks etc is classed as Dirty Water and is seperated from Rain water system, then is Treated, Filtered and Processed to remove any pollutants, such as chemicals, bacteria, soap etc before it is pumped into the stream, River, Sea etc, thus the effects of the PCB's is Nil

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Globe Collector » Sun Jun 17, 2012 11:05 pm

P.C.B. is actually an oily liquid. Mixed with other stuff or with other stuff dissolved in it it may appear as a component of some gels or non-solid, non-liquid space filling goo. E.G. you could dissolve P.V.C. in it to make something like glue.
Most molecules with a carbon-to-chlorine sigma bond are insoluble or of very low solubility in water. Those yellow or pink "beads" or lumps with the characteristic "public toilet" smell that you ***** on in urinals are composed of almost pure para-di-chloro-benzine. A benzine ring with a chlorine atom attached to opposite ends. This is similar to P.C.B. because it contains the same ring and chloro groups. This stuff is nowhere as problematic though because it is a much smaller molecule. P.C.B. itself consists of two benzine rings, each with one hydrogen atom pulled off and the two bonds joined leaving the two rings joined like the lenses of a pair of glasses. Each ring then has one to three chlorine atoms randomly substituted for some of the other hydrogen atoms on the other five corners of each ring.
The problem with this molecule is that it is of a similar shape and size to the pairs of purine-pyrmidine bases which make up the "rungs" in the D.N.A. molecule. A P.C.B. molecule can lodge itself in between the "rungs" of the D.N.A. and get quite stuck there. Then the transcription enzyme comes along to "read" the D.N.A., is an anologous fashion to a tape head reading along mag tape, when it gets to where the P.C.B. is stuck, the whole works is "guged up". When it gets going again, some of the D.N.A,s message was missed, like a splice in the tape. This can lead to protein transcription errors , i.e. the code on the D.N.A. tells the cell how to make proteins which, ultimately make you and regulate what goes on inside you. If enough of these get randomly "mucked up" then nasty problems could arise, albeit with a very small probability. If you smoke, have a family history of cancers or genetically inherited disorders, spend hours on the beach in the sun, hang around Sellafield or the like, then the probability can be increased.
Most organic molecules which contain halogens, particularly the really electronegative ones of Fluorine and Chlorine which form very strong bonds to other elements, like the carbon atoms in the "frames" of these molecules, biochemical, enzyme catalyzed in vivo reactions cannot get enough energy to pull the halogen off, and thus cannot degrade the molecule, so it persists in the environment for years and years without being changed into something less dangerous.
Imagine this "thought expierement". An ordinary turd, in the grass, freshly done. It will be gone within a week or two because bacteria will change all the compounds it is composed of into other less obnoxious things like carbon dioxide and water. At the sewer plant, anaerobic bacteria convert it into methane and water in the abscence of air.
But now imagine that same turd, with every hydrogen atom in it replaced by Fluorine. It would then be like something artificial, like teflon mixed with refrigerant. It would have no, or totally different smell, more like some weird glue. It would loose all its biological hazards, like the ability to give you some contageous disease, but it would now be simply toxic, like 1080 rabbit baits. But most importantly off all, bacteria would not do anything to it, they would not recognise it for what it (once) was. The volatile refrigerant like small molecules would eveporate away over time leaving a teflon like plastic lump with the same shape only. This would stay there for centuries unless someone or something removed it. And this is what P.C.B. is like, it is oily, water insoluble but spreadable by capilliray action onto any dry surface. Leaking from under the bushings of a H.V. Capacitor or Transformer, it creeps across surfaces and "wets' dust. Some of it very slowly evaoprates into the air, but only slowly. Put down a sink emulsified with soap or detergent into water, it gets to the sewer plant where the bacteria destroy the soap and detergent and leave the P.C.B. as an oliy slick on the water and as a film on tank walls and insides of pipes, particularly pipes made of stuff similar to it, like P.V.C. So it is insideous stuff which just spreads and spreads with no biological buggies to break it down. So the trick is, if you have a capacitor or some other submerged component and P.C.B. oil is leaking out, put the thing into a jar or some other such sealable container, prefrably without a plastic lid.
To destroy it totally and rapidly, it or whatever is contaminated with it is heated in a sealed container until it boils. The vapor is then run through very hot metal tubes into a container full of sodium vapor, with conditions not too dissimilar to those inside the arc tube of an operating SOX lamp. Here the chlorine component reacts violently with the sodium to make salt. The rest of the molecule degrades to methane and acetelyene and when the air is let in, these just burn to water and carbon dioxide.
Horrible stuff. Difficult to clean up without spreading it further. If you try to burn it, the electronagative chlorine competes with the almost equally electronagetive oxygen from the air to form "carbon oxypchloride" or phosgene, COCl2, a nasty toxic gas used in the trenches of WW-I! To clean up small quantities of it, wash contaminated objects damp with it in methylated spirit in which it is soluble, collect all the contaminated metho and burn it. The small amount of phosgene produced is less of a problem than the P.C.B., but this won't work of things are really wet with it. In this case just put everything contaminated with it into a tin, without getting any on the outside of the tin, then solder the lid into the tin and get whoever deals with chloro-organic contaminated stuff to come and take it away for sodium destruction.

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Re: PCBs in old ballasts?

Postby Lampwizard » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:44 am

Another way to destroy PCB is by burning it at high temperature; preferrably above 1200C to make sure there are no toxic chlorinated byproducts like dibenzofuranes and the like.


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