Frequent Questions

Are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) regulated under RCRA as a hazardous waste?

PCBs are not defined as hazardous wastes (Memo, Weddle to Verde; May 18, 1984 (RCRA Online #12235)).  However, it is possible that PCBs may be incidental contaminants in listed hazardous waste (e.g., solvent used to remove PCBs from transformers) or may be present in wastes that are characteristically hazardous. In these cases, wastes that otherwise meet a listing criteria or are characteristically hazardous are still subject to RCRA regulation regardless of PCB content. 

However, to avoid duplicative regulation with Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), certain PCB containing wastes that exhibit the toxicity characteristic are exempt from regulation under RCRA (Monthly Call Center Report Question; September 1996 (RCRA Online #14014)). Section 261.8 exempts from RCRA Subtitle C regulation PCB-containing dielectric fluid and the electric equipment which holds such fluid if they satisfy two criteria. First, these PCB wastes must be regulated under the TSCA standards of Part 761. Second, only the PCB wastes which exhibit the toxicity characteristic for an organic constituent (waste codes D018-43) may qualify for the exemption (§261.8). 

States may also have a regulatory program which is more stringent or broader in scope than the Federal program.  Many state have expanded their universe of regulated wastes to cover additional waste (e.g., PCB's) not defined as hazardous under the Federal program.  Individuals should check with their state to see if they are subject to any state requirements.

Additional information regarding the regulation of PCBs under RCRA is available in the following guidance documents: 
Memo, Lowrance to Wassersug; September 22, 1989 (RCRA Online #11470
Memo, Porter to McCloskey; April 26, 1986 (RCRA Online #11144)

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