Outdated fluorescent light fixtures can cause more than efficiency problems, they can pose serious health risks. According to the Lohontan Valley News, Vallon, NV, a large number of these outdated lights are being used in area schools, a discovery made by a school custodian when he discovered a black liquid leaking from the light. It was determined that the substance was PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls), a hazardous chemical used in fluorescent light ballasts manufactured before 1979.

PCB's are known as a possible human carcinogen that can also cause other serious health problems. To eliminate exposure, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests replacing light ballasts in schools that were built prior to 1979. It has been found that as these fixtures age, they are more likely to leak or catch fire without warning, causing long-term health problems for many students and faculty who are exposed.

According to the article, the EPA says tests on animals show PCBs can harm reproduction and growth, and can cause skin lesions and tumors. If the fluid is partially burned, it releases other chemicals that may cause anemia, blood problems, and cancer of the liver, mouth, adrenal gland and lungs in laboratory animals.

To learn more about PCB's, click here for the full article. (free registration)