- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Among the recommendations, the agency noted building managers should pay attention to:
- Cleaning air ducts
- Improving ventilation by opening windows and using or installing exhaust fans where possible
- Cleaning frequently to reduce dust and residue inside buildings
- Using a wet or damp cloth or mop to clean surfaces
- Not sweeping with dry brooms and minimizing the use of dusters in areas near potential PCB-containing caulk
- Using vacuums with high efficiency particulate air filters
- Washing hands with soap and water often, particularly before eating and drinking
- Washing children's toys often
The EPA also recommends testing peeling, brittle, cracking or deteriorating caulk directly for the presence of PCBs and removing the caulk if PCBs are present at significant levels. Alternately, the building owner can assume the PCBs are present and proceed directly to remove deteriorating caulk.
The agency has created a website, www.epa.gov/pcbsincaulk, with updated information on this issue. Concerned parties can also call an EPA hotline at (888) 835-5372.
Although Congress banned the manufacture and most uses of PCBs in 1976 and they were phased out in 1978, there is evidence that many buildings across the country constructed or renovated from 1950 to 1978 may have PCBs at high levels in the caulk around windows and door frames, between masonry columns and in other masonry building materials, the agency said in a Federal Register release.
"PCBs have been banned for the last 30 years for most uses," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "But unfortunately high levels of PCBs are present in many buildings and facilities constructed prior to the PCB ban, including most recently some schools. We're concerned about the potential risks associated with exposure to these PCBs and we're recommending practical, common sense steps to reduce this exposure as we improve our understanding of the science. For building owners and administrators who want to take added and more aggressive immediate steps, EPA is providing additional guidance to help them identify the extent of potential risks and determine whether mitigation steps are necessary. Local communities and governments have constrained resources that make this a particularly challenging and sensitive situation."