Friday March 17th, 2017


PCB was first synthesised in the laboratory (Griefs, Germany) in 1867. In 1929, the first production took place with the first industrial application by Swann Chemical Co. in Anniston (Alabama, USA), later absorbed by Monsanto Chemical Co. , USA, in 1935. The latter continued the production of PCB at the facility in Sauget (Illinois) until 1977. Other companies in, for example, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, China and the Soviet Union also produced PCB.
The lack of reliable studies allowed use on a huge industrial scale, until the dramatic events of the 1960s (Yusho, Japan) and 1970s (Yu-Cheng, Taiwan) led to increasingly stringent regulations. Starting from those years, the use of PCBs was reduced considerably, and some countries began to cease production, but complete cessation of the production of PCB only cme about at the end of the 1980s.
The Stockholm Convention estimates that a total of about 1. 7 million tonnes of PCB were produced between 1929 and 1989. (source)


Most PCBs come in the form of colourless crystalline solids, while industrial mixtures are viscous liquids whose viscosity is generally proportional to the chlorine content present. PCBs are characterised by low water solubility and low volatility. They are also all very soluble in hydrophobic substances such as oils and fats. They are very stable substances, which can be destroyed only by incineration or through catalytic processes. Their stability is also responsible for their persistence in the environment.

In short, PCBS are characterised by the following properties:
– dielectric
– chemical and physical stability
– non-flammability
– compatibility with plastics, resins, adhesives, lubricants


Applications of PCB in closed systems:
insulating liquids for transformers used in power generation (nuclear, thermal, hydro, geothermal), as well as in transport, distribution and utilisation
– insulating liquids for electrical capacitors for fluorescent lamps (ballast),
– electrical appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners), electronic laboratories, electrical cables, drills, etc.

Applications in open systems:
lubricating oils, elasticisers, carbonless copy paper, pesticides, additives for paints and plastics, construction sealants, anti-dust additives, etc.

Commercial names

PCBs were marketed in the form of mixtures, to which chlorinated solvents identified by different product names were added. Among these are those of the Aroclor family, registered and produced by Monsanto Chemical Co. (USA) from 1930 to 1977. The following are the names of the main PCB-based mixtures used as insulating liquids:
Brazil – Askarel; Former Czechoslovakia – Delor; France – Phenoclor, Pyralène (both used by Prodolec); Germany – Clophen (used by Bayer); Italy – Apirolio, Fenclor; Japan – Kanechlor (used by Kanegafuchi), Santotherm (used by Mitsubishi); United Kingdom – Aroclor xxxx (used by Monsanto Company), Askarel, Pyroclor; United States – Aroclor xxxx (used by Monsanto Company), Asbestol, Askarel, Bakola131, Chlorextol – Allis-Chalmers trade name, Hydol, Inerteen (used by Westinghouse), Noflamol, Pyranol/Pyrenol (used by General Electric), Saf-T-Kuhl, Therminol; Former USSR – Sovol, Sovtol

Mass poisoning

from “Past and current dermatological status of yusho patients”, H. Urabe and M. Asahi, Environ Health Perspect. 1985

The two most emblematic cases took place in 1968 (Yusho, Japan) and in 1979 (Yu-Cheng, Taiwan), when several thousand people (over 10,000 in the accident in Japan alone) consumed rice oil contaminated with a mixture of PCBs, polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs) leaked from a cooling coil. Those intoxicated presented symptoms of poisoning, from chloracne to hyperpigmentation of the skin and disorders of the liver and digestive and respiratory systems, up to death in at least 26 cases for the Japanese case alone. The children of poisoned mothers showed many of the adult disorders, with an increasing in the proportion of underweight births and the presence of developmental delays. Fifteen years later, there was an increase in deaths caused by tumours in the respiratory tract (SMR = 3. 3) and in the liver of males (SMR = 5. 6) and of females (SMR = 3. 0).

Effects on humans and the environment

PCBs are among the 12 substances harmful to human health and the environment that the Stockholm Convention has called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are chemical compounds with toxic properties that propagate in the air, water, or soil and, because of their poor degradability, reside in the environment for a long time. PCBs in particular are characterised by an extraordinary persistence in the environment that can lead to dangerous bioaccumulation effects in the food chain on living organisms and, more seriously, PCBs can lead to dangerous degradation (PCDD-dioxins and PCDF-furans) if subjected to uncontrolled thermoal oxidation (hot spots >300 °C, explosions and/or fires).
PCB enters primarily in aqueous systems, penetrates the body of animals and, because it is is liposoluble, passes into and accumulates in adipose tissues. It is not direct toxicity that is most dangerous (insofar as killing a mouse requires about 5 grams of PCB for each kilo of body weight); it is prolonged administration, and thus accumulation, that leads to death. PCB penetrates and spreads into the liver, nerve tissues and all organs and tissues with a high lipid component.

Major publications by Sea Marconi on the subject

V. Tumiatti ? ?CODET ? ?Sistema di detenzione e smaltimento controllato di trasformatori e condensatori elettrici in Askarel-PCB” – Bollettino Tecnico – Sea Marconi Technologies – Torino 1/10/1979″.
I. Barbiero, M. Scalabrino, V. Tumiatti ? ?La detenzione controllata e lo smaltimento dei PCB negli impianti industriali e di servizi. Problemi, Sistemi, Soluzioni? Atti del simposio su rischi e tossicita’ dell’inquinamento da policlorobifenile-PCB – Milano 12/03/1980.
V. Tumiatti, V. Petrillo – “Sistema tecnologico integrato di detenzione e smaltimento controllato di residui tossici contenenti PCB” ? Atti del convegno internazionale su rifiuti solidi, fanghi e materiali residui ? Roma 17-20/06/1981.
M. Negre, V. Tumiatti – “Prevenzione dei rischi e gestione emergenze su sistemi contenenti PCB. Processi di distruzione termica e chimica di composti tossici clorurati-PCB, PCDD, PCDF “Atti del convegno su solventi e composti organo-clorurati. monitoraggio ambientale e biologico – Padova – maggio 1983.
S. Facchetti – “I Relazione sulle prove preliminari di demolizione chimica di 2,3,7,8 -TCDD (diossina) per decontaminare materiale inquinato con CDP PROCESS- Sea Marconi” – CEE – CCR Euratom of Ispra, maggio 1983.
S. Facchetti – “II Relazione sulle prove preliminari di demolizione chimica di 2,3,7,8 – TCDD (DIOSSINA) per decontaminare materiale inquinato con CDP PROCESS – Sea Marconi ” – CEE – CCR Euratom of Ispra, Agosto 1983.
S. Facchetti – “III Relazione. Prove di decontaminazione della 2,3,7,8 – TCDD (diossina) nello stabilimento ICMESA (Reparto TCF): decontaminazione per distruzione chimica eseguite all’interno del Reparto B il 1-6 luglio 1983 con CDP PROCESS – Sea Marconi ” “Esperienza di demolizione su campione di 2 mg di – TCDD prova con reattivo Sea Marconi per la ricerca dei prodotti di degradazione ed esame Tossicologico della miscela di reazione” CEE – CCR Euratom of Ispra, Settembre 1983.
H. POIGER – “Toxicity of reaction products generated Upon heating of TCDD with a decontamination – reagent of Sea Marconi” Federal Institute of Technology-Institute of Toxicology – Schwerzenbach ? Switzerland of September 1983.
G. Nobile, V. Tumiatti – “Chemical demolition of TCDD, PCB’s and polyalogenated compounds. CDP PROCESS” PCB SEMINAR, Scheveningen, Netherland 28-30/09/1983.
V. Tumiatti; G. Nobile & Altri – “Decomposizione e distruzione chimica di tossici e supertossici alogenati” – CNR progetto finalizzato chimica fine e secondaria ? Sirmione Settembre 1983.
V. Tumiatti ? ?Plant decontamination process strategic materials recovery and chemical destruction of toxic and supertoxic polyalogenated compounds PCB’s, PCDD’s, PCDF’s through CDP PROCESS Sea Marconi? “Decomposizione e distruzione chimica di tossici e supertossici alogenati” OECD – Paris – 10/10/1983.
G. Nobile, V. Tumiatti, – ?Emergency procedures in polychlorobiphenyls contamination. Intervention, Procedures and methods? The IV. informational environment and safety conference. London 27 – 29/03/1984.
V. Tumiatti – “Valutazione dei fattori critici di successo per le operazioni su prodotti pericolosi. Analisi delle fasi di raccolta, trasporto, smaltimento di rifiuti tossici e nocivi. Stato dell’arte in Italia” – Relazione al parlamento europeo – Commissione d’inchiesta sul trattamento delle sostanze tossiche e nocive nella comunità e negli stati membri. Bruxelles – 28/11/1983.
V. Tumiatti, M. Negre & Others – “Integrated system of multidisciplinary tecnical diagnosis and strategic maintenance of energetic, productive and transport plants” – Proceding of the EFMMS Congress European Federation of National Maintenance Societes – Venice 9 – 11/05/1984.
V. Tumiatti – “Caso di emergenza chimica con PCB – diagnosi, decontaminazione e smaltimento”. Atti del Congresso Internazionale Emergenza Ambientale 84 – Torino 01/06/1984.
P. Tundo – “Nuovi processi di decontaminazione e distruzione chimica di tossici e supertossici alogenati”. Congresso Internazionale Emergenza Ambientale 84 – Torino 01/06/1984.
P. Tundo, V. Tumiatti – “Decomposizione chimica di policlorobifenili e della 2,3,7,8 – Tetraclorodibenzodiossina con CDP PROCESS” ? Ufficio speciale di Seveso – Regione Lombardia – atti del convegno Milano 20-22 Settembre 1984 – La risposta tecnologica agli inquinamenti chimici.
V. Tumiatti – SMT & Others – “Project: decision support software and its experimental validation for menace identification” – EEC – CCR Euratom of Ispra 12/02/1985
P. Tundo, S. Facchetti, V. Tumiatti, U. Fortunati – “Chemical degradation of – TCDD by means of Polyethylenglicols in the presence of weak based and an oxidant” – Chemosphere, Vol. 14, M.5, pp 403-41a – May 1985. Pergamen Press ltd.
G. Nobile – “Degradazione chimica dei composti aromatici policlorurati” – Atti del convegno CNR – giornate della chimica – Sirmione Settembre 1985.
P. Tundo, V. Tumiatti, G. Nobile – “In situ decontamination and chemical degradation of PCDF’s and PCDD’s coming from pyrolysis of PCB’s” ? Proceeding of the American Chemical Society – Conference – New York – 13 -18/04/1986.
P. Tundo – “Decontaminazione Chimica degli alogenuri aromatici tossici” – tecnologie chimiche – Maggio 1986, pp. 96-100.
F. Argentesi, S. Facchetti, V. Tumiatti, S. Cerlesi, et altri – “Ruolo dei sistemi esperti nella gestione della emergenza chimica – “Seminario NBC 1986. Scuola unica interforze per la difesa NBC- ROMA 27 – 28 Novembre 1986.
F. Gardin, V. Tumiatti et altri – “Sistemi esperti: assistenza alle diagnosi di trasformatori elettrici” ? Zerouno – Dicembre 1986.
U.S.E.P.A. – “Liquid reagent destruction of PCB on Surface and concrete” ? R & S ? Permit application of 16/01/1987.
F. Argentesi, S. Facchetti, V. Tumiatti, S. Cerlesi, et altri, – “Progetto di sistemi esperti per la gestione di rifiuti chimici” ?Atti della giornata di studio sui rifiuti urbani e industriali – Milano 16 – 17 Febbraio 1987.
U.S.E.P.A. – “Continuous Treatment of PCB contaminated Hydrocarbons” – R & S Permit application of 16/06/1987.
F. Argentesi, S. Facchetti, V. Tumiatti, S. Cerlesi et Altri – “CHEM: an expert System for the management of chemical accidents involving halogenated aromatic compounds” – Word Conference on Chemical Accident – Rome 7 – 10 July 1987.
P. Tundo, V. Tumiatti, G. Nobile – “Chemical degradation of selected polychlorinated compound by means of polyethers, a base, and an oxidant “American chemical society symposium series 338 – 1987 – Solving hazardous waste problems learhing from dioxins.
V. Tumiatti – “Progetto: valutazione gravità incidente chimico causato dai polialogenati aromatici e contromisure preliminari” – CEE CCR Euratom – Ispra 27/11/1987.
S. Cerlesi, F. Argentesi, V. Tumiatti, G. U. Fortunati. IST. SAN – “Contingency planning: a expert system – CHEM – for describing the level of response needed” – A report of nato/ccms working group on management of accidents involving the release of dioxins and related compounds – Rome 1988.
G. Camino, V. Tumiatti – “Methodes for PCB contamination levels in dielectric liquids” – IEC. International Electrotechnical Commission. Paris 9 – 10/01/1989 – TC 10 Working Group n. 7.
P. Tundo, B. Ruggeri, V. Tumiatti – “A case study on the chemical degradation of polychlorinated compounds by CDP PROCESS: Removal of PCB from oil of an electrical transformer” – V. conferenza internazionale ifiuti solidi, fanghi & materiali residui, Roma 26-29 Aprile 1989.
ENEL – “Risultati del test dimostrativo nella Centrale di Pracomune – CDP PROCESS per la dealogenazione di PCB in olio” – Ente Nazionale per l’energia elettrica – SPT comp. V.ENEZIA. 24/05/1989.
P. Tundo, E. Serena, B. Ruggeri, V. Tumiatti – “A case study on the chemical degradation of polychlorinated compounds by CDP PROCESS; Removal of PCB from oil of the electrical transformer” ? Proceeding of the EPRI-PCB Seminar – San Diego – USA. 03/10/1989.
V. Tumiatti, SMT – “Progetto: “Azioni di censimento dei contenitori ed apparecchi PCB …” – CEE. CCR Euratom di Ispra 12/12/1989.
G. Sarcina, V. Tumiatti et altri – “Un ipertesto per controllare la diossina” – Zerouno – Gennaio 1990.
B. Ruggeri, P. Tundo, V. Tumiatti – Paper “Supported liquid phase reactor – SLPR – for PCB’s in oil decontamination” ? Proceedings of the ISCRE 11 – International Symposium on Chemical Reaction Engineering – Toronto – Canada’ 08 – 11/07/1990.
F. Argentesi, S. Facchetti, S. Cerlesi, V. Tumiatti, et Others – Paper “Oil-PCB manager: a risk evaluation and management System for electrical Containers”. The International Conference On Organohalogen Compounds – EPRI – PCB Seminar. Bayreuth – FRG. 10 – 14/09/1990.
V. Tumiatti – “Progetto Oil-PCB manager (OPM): sviluppo di un sistema informatico per la gestione di contenitori contaminati da PCB” – CEE – Commissione delle Comunità Europee Istituto dell’Ambiente, Centro Comune di Ricerca. Ispra 13/09/1990.
V. Tumiatti, B. Ruggeri ? ?Lo scenario: il problema PCB nella dinamica socio-economica ed ambientale?, OIL-PCB FORUM?90 ? International Conference ? Turin 6-7 december 1990.
G. Camino, V. Tumiatti ?Prevenzione incidenti: la diagnosi del degrado funzionale nei trasformatori elettrici mediante l?analisi dei prodotti di degradazione chimico-fisica dei componenti interni, OIL-PCB FORUM?90 – International Conference ? Turin 6-7 december 1990.
F. Argentesi, S. Cerlesi, V. Tumiatti ? ?OIL-PCB manager (OPM): un sistema per la gestione di contenitori a rischio?, Oil-PCB Forum ?90 ? International conference-Turin 6-7 december 1990.
S. Carlesi, D. Buga, V. Tumiatti ? ?Analisi statistica dei dati e modellizzazione dell?informazione: priorità azioni di controllo, pianificazione dell?emergenza, previsione fabbisogno smaltimento?, Oil-PCB Forum ?90 Turin 6-7 december 1990.
P. Tundo – ?Il ruolo della chimica nella decontaminazione di sostanze tossiche persistenti?, Oil-PCB Forum ?90 Turin 6-7 december 1990.
V. Tumiatti – “Progetto Q C W: Quality Control of Water” – SMT CEE – Commissione delle Comunità Europee, Istituto dell’Ambiente – Centro Comune di Ricerca Ispra 11/03/1991.
S. Cerlesi, S. Facchetti, C. Orazio, S. Kapila, and V. Tumiatti ? “Modeling techniques for movement of chlorinated organics in terrestrial environment” – Proceedings of the 11th. international symposium on chlorinated dioxins and related compounds – Dioxin 91 – Research Triangle Park – North Carolina. USA September 23-27-1991.
S. Cerlesi, F. Argentesi, G. Camino, S. Facchetti, and Tumiatti ?Diagnostic module for functional degradation as an extention of the OIL-PCB manager (OPM)? – Proceedings of the 1991 PCB Seminar – EPRI – October 8-11-1991 Baltimore USA.
B. Ruggeri, V. Tumiatti, S. Dallo, V. Liu – “PCB’s – in-oil decontamination by supported-liquid-phase-reagent (SLPR) used in batch conditions” – Proceedings of the 1991 PCB Seminar – EPRI – October 8-11-1991 ? Baltimore USA.
B. Ruggeri, S. Kapila, G. Camino and V. Tumiatti ? “Determination of relative efficiencies of pcb treatment processes” – Proceedings of the 1991 PCB Seminar EPRI – Baltimore USA – October 8-11-1991.
A. De Pablo, R. Andersson, H.J. Knab, B. Pahlavanpour, M. Randoux, E. Serena, V. Tumiatti ? “Furanic compounds analysis a tool for diagnostic and maintenance of oil-paper insulation systems” – Proceedings of the CIGRE Conference – Berlin Germany – April 22-27-1993.
V. Tumiatti, B. Ruggeri, G. Camino, S. Dallo – ?A new technology for dehalogenation of PCBS and other halogenated contaminants? ? Proceedings of the European meeting on chemical industry and environment ? Girona Spain 2-4 June 1993.
V. Tumiatti, S. Dallo, B. Ruggeri, G. Camino ? “A new technology for dehalogenation of pcbs and other halogenated contaminants” – Proceeding of the 1993 Seminar EPRI – New Orleans, Louisiana USA – September 14-17-1993.
V. Tumiatti, S. Dallo, P. Aglietti and S. Kapila ? ?CDP Process: a new Technology for Continuos dehalogenation of PCBs in oil? ? Proceedings of the 10th International Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) PCB Seminar, Boston, MA, August 29-31,1995.
K.S. Ryoo, S. Kapila, V. Tumiatti, G. Camino and A.A. Elseewi ? ?CHEDCOS (chemical Decontamination and Counterflow Oxidative System): Application for Desctruction of PCBs? ? Proceedings of the 10th International Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) PCB Seminar, Boston, MA, August 29-31,1995.
EDF-Etudes et Recherchers ?Le traitement in situ des transformateurs contenant des PCB?, EDF-Electricité de France-Fait marquants 1996.
S. Kapila, V. Tumiatti, G. Boasso, Q. Liù and P. Nam ? ?Plant decontamination through chemical dehalogenation? ? Proceedings of the EA Technology Seminar PCB ? Legislation for Electric Power Network-London 21 october 1997.
V. Tumiatti, G. Di Iorio ? ?Determination of PCBs and PCB related substances (PCTs and PCBTs) CEN/TC19 pr. EN12766-1 Part. 3? ? EU Committee, Bruxelles ? Belgium ? 14 december 1998.
V. Tumiatti, R. Actis, G. Boasso, G. Di Iorio, S. Kapila, A. Porciani ? ?Dehalogenation of PCBs and protection of the environment: application on electrical transformers with a process in Continuous mode? ? (to be presented for SMI?99 ? 3° Convegno internazionale sulla manutenzione di impianti industriali, Bologna 17-20 febbraio 1999).
G. Boasso, A. Decoster, V. Tumiatti, P. Voorspoels ? ?Decontamination of PCBs and protection of the environment: application on electrical transformers with a process in continuous mode in the Republic of Cyprus? ? (to be presented for 1° International Conference on solid waste; Rome 7-9 april 1999).
P. Nam, Q. Liu, S. Kapila, W. Tumiatti and A. Porciani, – “An assessment of radiolysis and chemical dehalogenation for decontamination of PCBs and PCDDs in soil.” Organohalogen Compounds, 40, 507-511,1999.
W. Tumiatti, A. Porciani, R. Actis, S. Kapila and P. Nam, – “A Continuous technology for decontamination of PCBs/PCTs/PCDFs/PCDDs in insulating oil – CPD process applications” Organohalogen Compounds, 40, 571-576, 1999.
P. Nam, S. Kapila, Q. Liu, W. Tumiatti, A. Porciani, and V. Flanigan, – ?Solvent Extraction and Tandem Dechlorination for Decontamination of Soil.? Chemosphere, 43, 485-491, (2001).
P. Nam, Q. Liu, S. Kapila, W. Tumiatti, and A. Porciani, – ?An Assessment of Radiolysis and Chemical Dehalogenation for Decontamination of PCBs and PCDDs in Soil? Presented at the Dioxins 99, September 12 ? 17,1999, Venice, Italy
W. Tumiatti, A. Porciani, R. Actis,  S. Kapila and P. Nam, ?A Continuous Technology for Decontamination of Electrical Equipment Through Dechlorination of PCBs/PCTs in Insulating Oil CDP Process®? – Applications Presented at the Dioxins 99, September 12 ? 17,1999, Venice, Italy
A. De Pablo, R. Actis, R. Maina, W. Tumiatti, 88-95 descontaminación de transformadores de aceite contaminados por policlorobifenilos (PCB) /Energía: Revista de Ingeniería Energética, 2003 JUL-AGO (172) Mar 2004
V. Tumiatti, M. Tumiatti, C. Roggero, R. Maina, R. Actis, G. Cravotto, F.   Trotta, Università di Torino ?POPS/ PCBS decontamination of oils, soils and water in electrical  installations? XV.I Congresso nazionale di chimica industriale Verbania Pollanza 14-17 giugno 2005
G. Cravotto, S. Di Carlo, B. Ondruschka, V. Tumiatti, C.M. Roggero ?Decontamination of soil containing POPs by the combined action of solid Fenton-like reagents and microwaves?. Chemosphere. 2007 Oct
A. I. Balabanovich, A. Hornung, M.P. Luda, W. Koch, V. Tumiatti ? ?Pyrolysis study of halogen-containing aromatics reflecting reactions with polypropylene in a post treatment decontamination process.?, Environmental science & technology, 39 (14), p.5469-5474, Jul 2005
G. Cravotto, S. Di Carlo, V. Tumiatti, C. Roggero, D. Bremner ?Degradation of Persistent Organic Pollutants by Fenton?s Reagent Facilitated by Microwave or High-Intensity Ultrasound. Environ. Technol./ *2005*, 26 (4), 721-724.
M. Pompili, V. Tumiatti ?The new CENELEC Standard CLC50503 on PCBs: PCBs Inventory? ? PCBs Elimination Network Magazine, n. 1 November 2010, pagg. 98-99

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