Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from Construction & Demolition

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) have been detected at elevated levels in certain sport fish in San Francisco Bay. To make the fish safer to eat and protect human health, PCBs sources to the Bay need to be identified and controlled. Also known as “legacy pollutants,” PCBs were once commonly used in industrial and electrical applications and building materials. 

The U.S. has banned the production of PCBs for more than 30 years, and has limited modern-day mercury pollution, but past pollution continues to linger in Bay Area soils and waters today.  Ever since the Regional Water Board found San Francisco Bay to be impaired, agencies across the Bay Area have worked together to try and reduce these pollutants.  This includes finding and stopping pollution in local watersheds.

Urban Stormwater

One source of these contaminants today is urban stormwater. To minimize the impacts to stormwater and waterways, agencies are required to manage PCBs in certain building materials (e.g, caulks/sealants, insulation) that may contain PCBs and enter storm drains during building demolition. Click here for additional information on the PCB assessment protocol methodology for managing PCBs in structures planned for demolition. All applicants for demolition permits must conduct an assessment to screen for PCBs in priority building materials beginning July 1, 2019. The requirements apply to whole building demolition of commercial, multi-family residential, public, institutional, and industrial structures constructed or remodeled between 1950 and 1980 in the San Francisco Bay region, including Santa Clara County. Single-family homes and wood-frame structures are exempt.