Contamination Testing: What Are PCBs?

by | May 4, 2021

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were chemicals previously used extensively across a range of industries – across the globe – thanks to their impressive chemical stability; PCB mixtures, were found, for instance, in everything ranging from plasticizers to coolants, from hydraulic fluids through to caulking sealants. Back in the early 1980s, however, the use of PCBs in new equipment was banned as a result of the chemicals being found to be highly carcinogenic and otherwise harmful to human health. These chemicals still contaminate areas today, though – particularly in old industrial sites like substations – and as such, need both testing and removing. The team here at Borehole Solutions provide extensive contamination testing services, of which PCB testing is one branch. We wanted to talk about these once commonly used chemicals in a little more detail.


PCB Adverse Health Effects

The adverse health effects caused by prolonged exposure to these chemicals are varied and numerous. High levels of these chemicals in the bloodstream have been found to correlate with reduced physiological processes such as growth and development, cause various cancers like breast, uterine and cervical, as well as severe skin conditions like rashes and other dermal lesions.

It’s no wonder that these highly toxic chemicals were banned and, these days, it’s the job of contamination testing firms such as ourselves to make sure that residual quantities left over contaminating the ground aren’t ignored. The main danger of PCB within the subsurface is that these chemicals then leach into the surrounding groundwater, which in turn might lead to drinking water being tainted with the toxins.


Testing For PCB

In order to test for PCBs, soil sampling is required at the affected (or unaffected) area. Said samples are then bagged up and sent off to a certified laboratory where testing can begin. Testing for PCBs falls under the ‘Extended’ soil testing suite as opposed to the ‘Standard’ testing suite; within this extended suite, testing for other contaminants such as TPH-CWG, barium and vanadium is possible.

If the quantity of PCBs is such that subsequent disposal is required, then this too must be appropriately carried out. Typically, PCBs are disposed of by means of an approved incinerator, as specified by The National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors (NAWDC).


Our Other Contamination Testing Services

Asides from testing for PCBs, Borehole Solutions also offers a wide variety of other contamination testing services, too. These include:

  • Asbestos testing (which you can find out more about here).
  • Chemical testing, including testing for:
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Zinc
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Selenium
  • Vanadium
  • Free cyanide
  • And many more…


Contact Us

So, if you’d like to find out more about our suite of contamination testing services, then get in touch! Contact Borehole Solutions today on 01733 200 501 or by emailing us at Alternatively, you can fill out one of our online enquiry forms and get in touch with us that way. However you want to contact us, we look forward to seeing how we can help you!