The 501c3 Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PC4HS) group recently released tips to handling potential PCB-containing dust from substances such as older caulking in schools.

According to the US EPA: “Caulk containing potentially harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was used in many buildings, including schools, in the 1950s through the 1970s. Most schools and buildings built after 1979 do not contain PCBs in caulk. On September 25, 2009, EPA announced new guidance for school administrators and building managers with important information about managing PCBs in caulk and tools to help minimize possible exposure. Through EPA PCB Regional Coordinators, the Agency will also assist communities in identifying potential problems and, if necessary, developing plans for PCB testing and removal.”

Dust – potentially containing PCBs and other unwanted matter – should always be considered a “hazardous” substance, and be safely contained and removed from buildings rather than stirred into the air. PC4HS recommends high-efficiency containment and removal methods including:

1. Well-filtered vacuums certified for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) by Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) testing, and/or other independent labs.

2. Emptying and cleaning/inspecting vacuum filters regularly to avoid overloading and torn or compromised media; and to help ensure optimal safety and performance.

3. Emptying vacuum liners or bags outdoors and into a plastic trash liner to avoid spreading particles.

4. Damp cloth or microfiber dusters that capture and remove particulates. These materials should be laundered separately from other textiles.

5. Frequent dusting (e.g., in classrooms) utilizing cleaning specialists in a mapped and inspected process or plan that enables regular and thorough removal of soils (including dust).

6. Good ventilation to minimize airborne particles that may be harmful or allergenic.

For specific recommendations on removing caulk or other materials suspected of containing PCBs, click here.