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I live in a neighborhood where there is a very real chance my soil will be contaminated by PCBs. I may need to potentially be able to clean them up, with out breaking the bank. Are there any microbes or fungi I could employ to help me? Where can I get them and how can I most effectively employ them?

  • Not sure how this is related to "living without depleting natural resources"... – BryanH Jan 29 '13 at 22:26
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    @BryanH Leaving soil as unusable means leaving depleted the natural resource of fertile soil. – EnergyNumbers Jan 29 '13 at 23:20
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    You can tell I'm tired - I was rather confused for a moment about what all those printed circuit boards were doing in your garden... – berry120 Jan 29 '13 at 23:30
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    Please can those who've voted to close, and everyone else interested in the discussion of site scope, come over to meta to discuss? – EnergyNumbers Jan 30 '13 at 7:35
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PCB remediation is not something you can (or should) handle yourself.

First thing is I would get the soil tested. If it comes back contaminated, you might consider whether it is still safe to live there, as PCBs are pretty toxic.

Poking around the EPA's pages on PCBs, it appears that there is a real issue of cleanup and disposal, as in, one has to be licensed to even transport PCBs for disposal. It isn't something that is appropriate to dump in the storm drain or down the toilet.

Look at their document on PCB handling after a disaster to see what kinds of things they recommend (pages 8-9):

To prepare, the local government should consider establishing contracts with qualified contractors for the cleanup, storage, and transportation of damaged PCB-containing electrical equipment and PCB-contaminated materials before an emergency occurs.

Note the word is "government" and not "individuals".

If your soil is truly contaminated, then you might want to contact your local government agency to see what they can do for you.

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    I've read studies suggesting that there are bacteria and/or fungi that might be able to break PCBs down into an inert and harmless form in the soil. Here's an example: pacifichydrogeologic.com/… In the past I'd stumbled across smaller scale studies that might be replicated under less controlled conditions. – Daniel Bingham Jan 29 '13 at 23:50
  • It would be really cool if your local government paid for your property to have its soil remediated. – Gabriel Fair Feb 4 '13 at 2:05

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