The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 4, Number 4
Nov 1991


Mill Conversions

Quicklime Neutralizes PCBs

The May PIMA, Magazine reports that the Wall Street Journal reports no date given) that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may have accidentally found a safe, cheap way to destroy polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PIMA does not describe the incident of discovery, but says the process involves quicklime. When it is mixed with oily sludge residues containing large amounts of PCBs, it produces a "vigorous chemical reaction' that destroys the toxic material and leaves three relatively safe byproducts: calcium chloride, water and carbon dioxide.

All over the country there are transformers, motors and building electrical systems that contain PCBs, once useful for their electrical insulating properties, but banned in 1976 or 1977 after their toxicity and ecological destructiveness was realized. There are companies that specialize in removing and disposing of PCBs to forestall the danger of accidental leaks or spills, just as there are companies that specialize in asbestos removal. If there were a fire in a library that had old-fashioned ballasts for its fluorescent lights, and the PCBs from the ballasts contaminated the books, the library might have to be closed for good--a toxic waste site. If this discovery of the neutralizing ability of quicklime is shown by further research to be as good as it seem, it will give impetus to libraries and other organizations to remove those PCBs at once, because you wouldn't be able to use quicklime on the books after they were contaminated without getting that vigorous chemical reaction, which might render books unreadable, not to mention unsafe.

EPA also says that early indications suggest that the treatment might also work on other toxins, including dioxin.

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URL: http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/ap/ap04/ap04-4/ap04-401.html
Timestamp: Sunday, 03-Mar-2013 21:41:50 PST
Retrieved: Wednesday, 22-Nov-2017 16:35:26 GMT