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Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Other Toxic Substances

The Toxic Substance Control ACT (TSCA) of 1976 provides U.S. EPA with authority to require reporting, record keeping and testing requirements, and restriction relating chemical substance and/or mixtures. Indiana environmental laws are at IC 13. Certain substances like food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides are generally excluded from TSCA. TSCA addresses the production, importation, use, and disposal of specific chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, radon, and lead-based paint.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until manufacturing was banned in 1979. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including:

  • electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment;
  • plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products;
  • pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper;
  • and other industrial applications.

PCBs may still be present in products and materials produced before the 1979 PCB ban. PCBs can be released into the environment from poorly maintained waste sites that contain PCBs, Illegal dumping, or leaks or releases from electrical transformers containing PCBs.

Through partnership with the U.S. EPA, IDEM issues joint TSCA permits and conducts PCB inspections. For questions related to PCB, contact the IDEM OLQ Industrial Waste Compliance Section. Indiana’s PCB rules are at 329 IAC 4.1 and the state has also adopted most of the the federal regulation 40 CFR 761.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral composed of fibers that can be separated into threads. It is used in building materials and friction products due to its strength, resistance to fire and heat, and inability to conduct electricity. Until the 1970s, many types of building materials, friction products, and insulation materials contained asbestos. Asbestos-containing materials must be properly managed at demolition and renovation sites. The fibers may be released into the environment if the material becomes damaged (loose, crumbly, or water-damaged) or if the material is repaired or removed (sanded, sawed, cut, torn, frilled, or scraped) improperly.

Companies and individuals who generate regulated asbestos-containing materials at facilities undergoing a demolition or renovation may be subject to special requirements for labeling, packaging, and waste shipment and disposal records. Rules for generators of regulated asbestos-containing material is contained in 329 IAC 10-8.2-4. Questions about licensing, demolition, notification and disposal may be directed to the IDEM OAQ Asbestos Section, or the IDEM OLQ Compliance and Response Branch.

Lead-based Paints

Lead is a naturally occurring element. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals. Lead is particularly dangerous to children. Buildings constructed before 1978 likely have lead-based paint under top coats of non lead-based paint, or may even have lead-based paint as top coatings. If lead-based paint is disturbed by construction or damage, harmful dust is released into the air.

Children are exposed to lead-based paint when they eat lead-based paint chips or inhale or ingest lead-based paint dust. Contact IDEM’s Office of Air Quality for questions regarding lead-based paint removal requirements.

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