PCB ballasts from fluorescent light fixtures are being removed as a direct result of electric utility rebate programs. These energy conservation programs often include lighting retrofit projects which involve the installation of high-efficiency lamps and ballasts. The accelerated retirement of pre-1979 ballasts poses a disposal problem because they contain PCB’s
According to the United States EPA, the primary concern regarding the disposal of used lighting ballasts is the health risks associated with PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyl). It has been proven that human exposure to these possible carcinogens can cause skin, liver, and reproductive disorders. Although they are now known to present serious environmental health issues, PCBs were once commonly used as plasticisers, lubricants, transformer cooling fluids, and as the dielectric fluid in fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) ballasts.
PCB ballasts are regulated under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Generators (Businesses) of PCB containing ballasts could incur superfund liability for the improperly disposing of PCB ballasts in a dumpster or landfill.
In order to encourage the recycling of PCB Lighting Ballasts from service, Federal EPA passed the PCB MEGA RULE, which exempted Intact Non-Leaking PCB Lighting Ballasts. As a result, PCB Ballasts destined for recycling no longer need to be managed as a hazardous waste.