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 inProduct example, where to use
Insulating oilsTransformersTransformers for buildings, hospitals, rail vehicles, ships etc.
CapacitorsFluorescent light ballasts, direct current capacitors, electrical storage capacitors etc.
LubricantsHigh-temperature lubricants, hydraulic oils, vacuum pump oils, cutting oils, extreme pressure additives
PlasticizersInsulationElectrical cable coatings, insulation tape
Flame retardantsPolyester resin, polyethylene resin
Other productsAdded to varnishes, waxes and asphalt
Pressure sensitive paper coatings and printing inksNon-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

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