PCB is a potentially harmful toxin to human beings and the environment. Sweco is carrying out the biggest qualitative impact study yet of the presence of the toxin in Denmark’s stock of buildings.
The study concludes that PCB was used in more than 75% of the buildings constructed during the “PCB period” (i.e. 1950–1977). It is expected that there will be roughly 25,000 buildings of the types being examined in Denmark.
For every three buildings constructed between 1950 and 1977, the study showed that PCB will be present with a content of more than 50 mg/kg. This means that every third building dating from the PCB period contains hazardous waste.
For such buildings, it is necessary to make specific assessments of where PCB sources are located in the building and of whether they constitute a risk to the building’s users or inhabitants.
In the vast majority of buildings, the presence of PCB does not mean that the Danish Health Authority’s recommended exposure action values for PCB in the air inside the building are necessarily exceeded, however.
If there is a risk of a building’s users or inhabitants being exposed to PCB, then a memorandum needs to be drawn up stipulating how such a building can be used without anyone being exposed to PCB.
In many cases, good results can be achieved by a higher frequency of airing out, maintaining a constant temperature of 20–22o C and thoroughly cleaning the buildings.
Some buildings will require more significant remediation, however.
It can be beneficial to energy-refurbish the PCB sources in such buildings, e.g. by replacing old thermal sealed glazing units (if their frame and sill date from the PCB period), replacing of fluorescent-lighting fixtures from the period 1950–1986, establishing solar cell systems for the infusion of fresh air or for ventilation systems to cool the building in summer, etc.