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Region 2

Serving New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and Eight Tribal Nations.

EPA Inspection for PCB-containing lighting ballasts
PS 45, Brooklyn, New York
Nineteen of Nineteen Samples Above Regulatory Limit

More Information

EPA's PCBs homepage.

Guidance on PCB-Containing Fluorescent Light Ballasts

On Saturday, February 12, 2011, EPA conducted an inspection at PS 45 to look at lighting ballasts that may contain PCBs and determine if they have leaked in the past or are currently leaking.  See below for a chart containing the results of samples taken during this inspection.

If a lighting ballast is leaking PCBs above a regulatory level of 50 parts per million, it is considered an exceedance and federal law requires the immediate removal and disposal of the ballast and disposal of any PCB-contaminated materials at an EPA-approved facility.

A total of nineteen samples were taken from eleven classrooms.  All nineteen samples taken showed results above the regulatory limit.

These results show PCB levels that are significantly higher than those found on ballasts and fixtures in schools that EPA has previously inspected.  Although there is insufficient information to determine the exact reason why, it is likely that this is because the capacitors in many of the lighting fixtures had burned out and completely failed.  This allowed the PCB-containing oil to seep through the potting material in almost pure form.  In most of the fixtures tested in this school the actual casing around the ballasts had also broken, allowing the high concentration of PCBs to contaminate the surface of the ballasts, the fixture housings, the wires and the diffusers that cover the lighting fixture.  

EPA continues to strongly recommend that the City of New York develop a plan for assessing and addressing leaking ballasts in its schools city-wide.

These recommendations are consistent with EPA’s national guidance recommending that schools take steps to reduce potential exposures to PCBs from older fluorescent lighting fixtures.

PS 45 Brooklyn
February 12, 2011 Sampling Results

Location

Fixture No.

Sample location

Sample Results  mg/kg (PPM)

PCB Aroclor

Old/New Ballast

Ballast leaking

Description of Material

Room   105

1

Diffuser

660,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stain

Room   105

1

Tray

28,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stains

Room  103

1

Tray

1800

1248

New

No

Two Tar Globules

Room   109

1

Tray

1100
1600

1242
1262

New

Yes

Dried Tar Drop

Room   234

1

Diffuser

140,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stain

Room    234

1

Tray

79,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stains

Room   229

1

Diffuser

610,000

1248

Old

Yes

Oil Stain

Room   229

1

Ballast

650,000

1242

Old

Yes

Bulging ballast w/ oil spatter and thick tar oozing from seam

Room   229

1

Tray

670,000

1242

Old

Yes

Oil Stains

Room    252

1

Diffuser

57,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stain

Room    252

1

Tray

44,000

1248

New

No

Tar Globules

Room    252

2

Housing

400,000

1248

New

No

Oil Spatter

Room    252

2

Tray

110,000

1248

New

No

Oil Stains

Room   331

1

Tray

30,000

1248

New

No

Oil Smears

Room   350

1

Tray

510,000

1248

New

No

Oil stains

Room   337

1

Tray

500,000

1248

New

No

Liquid Oil and Oil Stains

Room   337

2

Tray

200,000

1428

New

No

Oil Stains

Room   110A

2

Tray

1,000

1242

New

No

Charred Stain

Room 108A

3

Tray

830

1242

No Ballast

No Ballast

Tar Drop and Oil Spatter

 

 

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