Engineering Students Learn About PCBs

On April 27, 2017, Dr. Rachel Marek from Project 4 gave a guest lecture at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Prof. Anne Alexander's Fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry class, an elective of 24 juniors and seniors. She introduced students to PCBs and why we are concerned about their presence in schools. Students built molecules of PCB 11 and PCB 52, two PCBs that are prominent in school air due to paint and legacy Aroclors. They talked about partitioning coefficients and what that means for their volatilization.

Dr. Marek described the extensive field sampling campaign, lab methods, and quality control analysis for PCBs in school air. The students compared congener profiles of the school air with potential Aroclor and paint source profiles to determine the main identifiable source (specific Aroclor and/or pigment) of PCBs in that school. The students used historical Aroclor information to determine where in the school the Aroclors were likely present (light ballast, caulking, floor adhesive).