3 Common Mistakes Made After Suspecting or Identifying PCB Contamination

pcb-mgmt-webFinding out that your building materials has PCBs opens a huge can of worms in terms of liability, and this discovery can wrack the nerves of even the most confident building manager. Determining the best practice for managing them can be a difficult task.

As a result, many facilities operators find it best to simply sweep their PCB problem under the proverbial rug in order to save time and money. This mentality, however, often works in reverse, leading to years of backlash and hundreds of thousands of dollars in remediation and settlement costs.

Here are three common ways people react to PCBs that cause more harm than good.

Painting Over It 

Encapsulation is occasionally recommended as a way to control low concentrations of PCBs, but without a professional evaluation to inform you that this is the way to go, you shouldn’t assume a quick coat of paint will get the job done. This method can not only fail to contain your PCB problem, but the paint itself could become a secondary source of contamination, given the notorious tendency for PCBs to “infect” other building materials. 

Even methods like covering the area in an extra layer of sheetrock or putting plastic over the old building materials won’t be effective in containing large or even moderate concentrations of PCBs in the long run. Porous surfaces can become sources of contamination if they are even near PCBs, and seemingly impermeable barriers like plastic are far from foolproof. Secondary PCB contamination can be just as dangerous as primary contamination, and can make your issue that much tougher to deal with if you decide to take matters into your own hands.

Hasty Removal

Just like painting over PCB contamination can hurt more than it can help, trying to get it out of your building with a half-baked removal plan can be problematic at best, and lawsuit-worthy at worst. Having an untrained contractor remove PCBs from your building in a hasty manner is a sure-fire way to get in deep trouble with OSHA and other similar regulatory agencies. Furthermore, if your construction team finds out about PCB contamination retroactively, due to subsequent testing in your building or someone sending forth a complaint, then it could come back to you as employee endangerment. Additionally, leaving behind PCBs will limit remediation options and increase costs down the road.

Even if your construction team suspects nothing when working to remove materials that are thought to be PCB-containing, your secret could still get out when the waste receiving facility tests your waste for PCBs. If this test comes back positive, then the facility can refuse your waste, and will know that your building contains PCBs that have not been properly dealt with. In either case, playing it safe with an experienced removal team will always pay for itself in the long run, and will do a better job, too.

Not Testing/Hiding It

Simply ignoring the issue is another big problem, but less from a regulatory standpoint than from an ethical or safety standpoint.

If your bottom line has you most concerned, then know that if someone buys your building, but wants to have a comprehensive assessment done before closing, then this process could reveal a PCB problem that can turn around to bite you. Sales falling through and a decrease in your property value are just a couple of the plethora of issues that can arise when hidden PCB contamination is sniffed out by the people you’re hiding it from. 

If you suspect PCBs in your building, your first step should always be to have the issue checked out by an experienced PCB consultant. Click the button below to schedule a PCB consultation and avoid the headaches and danger that come with deliberate noncompliance.