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Subject: PCBs


From: Paul N. Banks <pbanks>
Date: Tuesday, March 7, 1989
I just came across an article in the EPA Journal (March 1986) that
talked about the complications of decontaminating buildings in general
and museum collections in particular that had been exposed to PCBs (and
fire-created decomposition products). The best-known instance is the
state office building in Binghamton NY that had a fire in a PCB-filled
transformer that is still uninhabitable despite years and millions spent
on decontaminating the building. This led me to a horrifying thought:
Would it not be **IMPOSSIBLE** to decontaminate objects as absorbent as
books in the event of such a fire? Particularly if there were hundreds
of thousands of them that had been exposed? In other words, in a
"worst-case scenario" (ugh), if a library were so contaminated, would
the entire collection have to be buried somewhere? Gutenberg Bibles and

It seems to be that, if my supposition is correct, it might be of the
greatest importance to try to be sure that there are no PCB-filled
transformers in library buildings. This is particularly of concern
because it seems to me that the existence of such transformers is likely
to be unknown or unsuspected until there is a disaster.

Any thoughts on this?

                  Conservation DistList Instance 2:12
                  Distributed: Sunday, March 12, 1989
                        Message Id: cdl-2-12-005
Received on Tuesday, 7 March, 1989

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