Determination of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) and Phthalates in Waste Polymer Samples intended for Mechanical Recycling

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The purpose of this study was to determine the levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and phthalates in homogenized polymer samples from polymer waste streams using two different pressurized fluid extraction instruments (ASE and SpeedExtractor). Both extraction methods showed very similar results. Measured PCB levels were in the lower and sub ppm range. Calculated total PCB levels using the German LAGA norm do not exceed the 50 ppm threshold value, however, the margin of safety is much smaller than expected. In both samples, diethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) dominates the phthalate pattern and exceeds the 0,1% level set by the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for toys. The results indicate that it may be useful to monitor the levels of PCBs and phthalates in certain polymer waste streams to prevent them from entering a new product life cycle when reused in production.

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