Case Study

Material Management at a Contaminated School Building


When planning renovations for an older wing of a Massachusetts public school, testing for the presence of hazardous building materials was conducted by a local area consultant. The wing of the school had been constructed during a time when polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely used, so these compounds were of particular concern. Air tests and wipe samples came back positive for both PCBs and asbestos, verifying the presence of the chemical in concentrations in parts per million (ppm) levels higher than those allowed by the federal EPA. The town sought out the experts at Triumvirate Environmental to assist with the remediation process.


Here's what our team did to manage the problem:

  • We worked in conjunction with the external consultant to find the potential source of elevated PCB levels in air.
  • We removed approximately 120 leaking light ballasts before retesting the air.
  • When the retest revealed that PCB levels were still high, it became apparent that PCBs were likely present in building materials. Further testing demonstrated that PCBs were present in the caulking around windows and construction joints, both outside and inside the building.
  • Impacted classrooms, the cafeteria, and the kitchen in this school wing were isolated, pending remediation of the hazardous materials.  
  • We conducted a pilot test in two of the 12 rooms, removing and disposing of 14 windows, as well as encapsulating the remaining substrate, door frame caulking, and construction joints with an epoxy-based paint as an additional precautionary measure.
  • We decontaminated all surfaces of the room and Univents within. Following surface cleaning, retesting of the pilot rooms revealed PCB concentrations in the air that were within the public health levels outlined by the EPA. This successful remediation procedure was then applied to the remaining rooms of the school.


Our Triumvirate team successfully remediated the indoor air quality throughout the affected areas. Work was completed within the given budget constraints, and classrooms and common areas were released for reoccupation within the predetermined time limit of two weeks. Due to our efforts, the school achieved indoor air quality compliance as decreed by the EPA.

Learn more about our PCB Testing & Remediation services.


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