What is low-concentration PCB waste?

PCB is an abbreviation for a man-made substance called polychlorinated biphenyl.
Under the Act on Special Measures concerning Promotion of Proper Treatment of PCB Wastes, high voltage capacitors, high voltage transformers and other waste that may contain PCBs must be inspected and, if found to contain them, treated by March 31, 2027.

Characteristics of PCBs

Their physical characteristics include very low solubility in water and high boiling point, and they are usually oily. Being difficult to break down by heating, incombustible and chemically stable, and having good electrical insulation properties, PCBs are used in a wide variety of products.

Examples of PCB applications

Used in Product example, where to use
Insulating oils Transformers Transformers for buildings, hospitals, rail vehicles, ships etc.
Capacitors Fluorescent light ballasts, direct current capacitors, electrical storage capacitors etc.
Lubricants High-temperature lubricants, hydraulic oils, vacuum pump oils, cutting oils, extreme pressure additives
Plasticizers Insulation Electrical cable coatings, insulation tape
Flame retardants Polyester resin, polyethylene resin
Other products Added to varnishes, waxes and asphalt
Pressure sensitive paper coatings and printing inks Non-carbon paper (solvent), electronic copying paper, printing inks, flame- retardant paints, corrosion- resistant paints, chemical-resistant paints, water-resistant paints

PCB toxicity

PCBs can be absorbed through the skin or as vapor via the mouth; their high fat-solubility allows them to accumulate in the body. Reported symptoms of PCB poisoning include eye secretions, hyperpigmentation of nails and the oral mucosa, acne-like skin eruptions, deformities of the nails and swelling of the eyelids and joints.

Classification of PCB waste

Type High-concentration PCB waste Low-concentration PCB waste
Waste electrical appliances with trace amounts of PCB contamination etc. Waste is included in low-concentration PCB waste
Description PCB oils used for insulation Items to which PCBs have been unintentionally added Waste oil etc. with PCB concentration ≦5,000 mg/kg
(regardless of source of contamination)
Includes High voltage capacitors
High-voltage transformers
Ballasts etc.
High voltage transformers
Low voltage transformers
Oil-filled cables, reactors etc.
Rags, sludge, waste oil etc.
Decision criteria Sorting by information on appliance nameplate and year of manufacture Normally these require analysis of their PCB content
Treatment JESCO
Japan Environmental Storage & Safety Corporation
Detoxification facility approved by the Minister of the Environment or a prefectural government