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RE: PCB Question

Original poster: "Loudner, Godfrey by way of Terry Fritz <twftesla-at-qwest-dot-net>" <gloudner-at-SINTE.EDU>

Hi Dave and All

I have studied all the stuff on the list about homebrew tests for PCB. There
is the "water test", the "odor test", the "color of flame test", and the
"try to set it on fire test". I have come to the conclusion that the only
definitive test is a chemical analysis by a laboratory. I believe that the
above test are a good estimate for pure PCB. But what about lower

An x-ray transformer could have been originally filled with PCB, and then
refilled by x-ray service people with non-PCB. The transformer is still
contaminated with PCB. At T&R Electric, PCB filled transformers are drained
and left standing for a month to allow three quarts of residual oil to drain
from the core and windings. Then the transformer is washed and refilled with
non-PCB. All  the homebrew tests will fail in such a situation. Any amount
of PCB above 50ppm is a legal liability. This poses a serious problem for
owners and would be owners of x-ray transformers. If you are caught by the
EPA with a PCB filled transformer, the transformer will be confiscated and
destroyed by incineration at great financial cost to the owner. You will not
go to jail, but you will pay $ and pay $ and pay $.
Dave poses an interesting question that I have always wondered and worried

Godfrey Loudner

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Tesla list [SMTP:tesla-at-pupman-dot-com]
> Sent:	Tuesday, May 22, 2001 9:13 AM
> To:	tesla-at-pupman-dot-com
> Subject:	PCB Question
> Original poster: "by way of Terry Fritz <twftesla-at-qwest-dot-net>"
> <Tesla729-at-cs-dot-com>
> Hi all, 
> I have an old (circa 1945) x-ray transformer that I strongly 
> suspect has PCBs for the dielectric fluid. I have ran across 
> this same type of oily fluid before in another old transformer. 
> It looks like oil, but has a different odor than plain transformer 
> oil. However, the dictionary definition of PCB states that it is 
> in the from of a "toxic, colorless, odorless, vicous liquid form- 
> erly used as an insulator in electrical equipment" I was won- 
> dering if it was usually mixed with petroleum in electrical euip- 
> ment and thus the definite odor. And yes, I have gotten a little 
> bit on myself before when I took them apart to facilitate an in- 
> ternal repair :-(( Hopefully, my hair won't start falling out tomor- 
> row. 
> I've read that you can drop a drop of the fluid in question into 
> some water and if it floats, then in isn't PCB, as PCBs have 
> a higher specific gravity than water. However, I personally do 
> NOT suscribe to this as a sure-fire way to detect the presence/ 
> absnece of PCBs as they may very well be mixed in with petro- 
> leum oil, which of course has a lower specific gravity than water. 
> Maybe some of the resident chemistry majors could comment 
> on this? 
> David Rieben