Clark Seif Clark Inc.

PCB-Containing Caulk Found in Many Homes and Buildings

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Source: Clark Seif Clark Inc.

Clark Seif Clark provides testing and consulting services to identify polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mitigate exposure risks.

Chatsworth, CA -- Caulking is a common building material found in virtually all homes and buildings. The flexible material is used to seal gaps and joints to make them water and airtight.  Unfortunately, many caulking materials used in the past to build and renovate residential and commercial properties contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

According to research conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Caulk put in place between 1950 and 1979 may contain as much as 40 percent PCBs and can emit PCBs into the surrounding air. PCBs from caulk may also contaminate adjacent materials such as masonry or wood.”   

Concerns over PCBs in caulking materials made headlines just last month when a decision was handed down by a U.S. District Court Judge regarding an ongoing lawsuit initiated by public health advocates and parents against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. The lawsuit resulted after the discovery of PCB-containing caulks at several of the district’s schools.  

“Most people don’t recognize the potential for worker and occupant exposure in cases where aging caulking materials could contaminate surrounding materials, dusts and even the indoor air,” said Derrick A. Denis, Vice President of IEQ at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “When renovation, remodeling and demolition activities take place, these occurrences can disturb and aerosolize contaminated particulates into the air which can settle on building surfaces and contents if the proper safety precautions are not put in place.” 

The only way to know if old caulking materials contain PCBs is to have them tested. The indoor environmental quality professionals at CSC offer PCB testing services for caulking materials as well as other common indoor sources. These include some old paints, mastics, adhesives, specialty coatings and fluorescent light ballasts.    

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