The composition of a black, tar like thermal dielectric compound found that the Miamitown Grade School (SIC-8210), Miamitown, Ohio was investigated. The school principal requested the study after expressing concern that the compound, which had leaked from several fluorescent lamp ballast casings, might contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). On December 7, 1981, a wipe sample was collected and analyzed. The surface of a luminaire where the ballast had previously burned out contained 3600 micrograms of PCB which was reported as Aroclor-1242 (53469219). Other samples contained 0.9 and 0.6 micrograms of PCB per 100 square centimeters. The ballasts may have inadequate internal thermal protective mechanisms to prevent overheating and ultimate burnout, both of which are causes of leakage of the thermal dielectric compound. The author concludes that significant quantities of PCBs were released during ballast burnout. The author suggests that thermally unprotected ballasts be replaced with thermally protected units of Class-P classification.
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