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PCB Emissions from Paint Colorants

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journal contribution
posted on 18.04.2019, 00:00 by Jacob C. Jahnke, Keri C. Hornbuckle
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are known human carcinogens that are byproducts of pigment manufacturing and found in colorants used to tint consumer paints sold in the United States and elsewhere. PCBs have the potential to be emitted from paint containing these pigments. To quantify the gas-phase emissions of ∑PCBs, we used polyurethane foam (PUF) to capture emissions from freshly applied colorants. Some PCB emissions were detected on the PUF after 1 day. After 6 weeks, all PCBs found in the colorant were also found on the PUF. Even the fully chlorinated PCB209 was emitted from green colorant. Mono- and dichlorinated PCBs were released from the colorant at a faster rate than the higher chlorinated congeners. By the end of the experiment, all the lower chlorinated congeners were absent from the colorant while more than 75% of the higher chlorinated congeners remained in the sample. The rate of PCB emissions from paint colorants is a function of the surface/air equilibrium coefficient, and the presence of water accelerates the emissions. Although concentrations of PCBs in colorants are less than 285 ng g–1, PCB emissions from colorants in paint can cause environmentally relevant concentrations of ≥500 pg m–3 within hours of painting a room.