A method for rapidly screening oil samples for polychlorinated- biphenyls (1336363) (PCBs) was described. The test was based on the Beilstein test for halogens in organic compounds. A 7 to 10 centimeter length of 12 or 14 gauge solid copper wire was formed into a closed loop and hammered until a spatula end about 5 millimeters (mm) wide was formed. The spatula end of the wire was heated in a Bunsen burner flame until the copper was oxidized to copper-oxide as indicated by the wire turning a dark bluish purple color. After cooling, about 5 microliters (microl) of the oil to be tested was placed on the spatula end. The wire was then inserted horizontally into the blue inner cone of a 50 to 75mm Bunsen burner flame. After combustion of the oil was complete, the wire was moved into the lower part of the outer flame. A green or blue green flame appearing above the spatula indicated the presence of PCBs in the sample. The intensity and duration of the color depended on the mass, concentration, and type of PCB and the flame characteristics. When used with an oil sample containing 686000 parts per million Aroclor-1260 (11096825), a sample of less than 1microl gave a positive response. The authors conclude that the test can indicate the presence of PCBs in 5microl samples containing more than 14000 parts per million (1.4 percent) PCBs. It should be useful for screening oils suspected of containing PCBs.
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