Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: oil-filled capacitors

But ... PCBs are listed carcinogens, and (at least in the US) must be
handled as toxic wastes. To ignore that edict is to invite fines and/or
major liability claims.
As a former denizen of upstate New York, I remember well the deformed
PCB-contaminated fish in the Hudson River, and the subsequent ban on eating
_anything_ caught there. Ironically, nobody noticed the PCBs until they
cleaned up the sewage problem and allowed the fish to come back! Since they
tend to concentrate in fatty tissue, I suspect that the real hazard comes
from ingestion, which I presume you didn't do! On the other hand, I recall
playing with mercury when younger and more naive - something I wouldn't do
today, either.

I no longer wallow in PCBs, but I also have a more realistic view of hazard
assessment than do the ecopromoters like Greenpeace*. It is fashionable to
oppose PCBs; they don't fight back, and by saying scary things ecopromoters
grab a lot of ink. It appears to me that grabbing ink is the principal goal
of operations like Greenpeace, though they would likely call it
"consciousness raising". Joe sixpack is being regaled with so much
propaganda these days that I suspect a poll asking the single question:
"Would you support federal legislation banning the use of chemicals by
private corporations?" would receive a significant number of positive
responses. The consciousness raising exercise has indeed had its effect.

Now I'm a big fan of Pete Seeger; I have my roots in Berkeley from 1955-66.
I was taught to think critically, and in my view the PCB scare is out of
all reasonable proportion to the risk. If you want to fight something of
comparable concern you should look into the continued use of celery in the
diet of Americans. If you want to save lives there are lots more effective
ways to do so. On a cost-benefit basis smoke alarms save far more lives
per dollar than PCB cleanups. In these days of limited resources it is
silly to state that it is worth any amount of money to save one human life.

In my opinion your first fear, stated in your first paragraph, is a greater
danger. It is a cultural flaw rather than an environmental hazard and it
should be recognized as such.


*Greenpeace originated here in Vancouver soon after I arrived. The roots of
Greenpeace give me no reason to expect scientific integrity from it.