Used transformers dangerous to health

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THOSE transformers on electric posts also pose a danger to health.

Environmental group Greenpeace warned that used transformers that contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic. PCB is used in the manufacture of dielectric, a material used in electrical insulators.

Exposure to PCBs can cause cancer, birth defects, damage to the liver and other internal organs, according to Greenpeace. People can be exposed to PCBs through contaminated soil or water.

Greenpeace officer Abigail Aguilar said the International Agency for Research on Cancer last year classified PCBs as carcinogens.


PCBs are also used in flourescent bulbs and circuit breakers. Aguilar said the Departments of Energy and Environment and Natural Resources signed an agreement for the regulated dumping of PCBs but it is yet to be implemented.

Greenpeace said transformers made in the 1960s and 1970s can still be found in old facilities and the PCBs that they contain may have seeped into the soil. The Philippines is estimated to have accumulated at least 7,000 metric tons of equipment and materials containing PCBs. A big portion of this inventory is owned by the National Transmission Corp. and other electric cooperatives.

A treatment facility for PCBs and other non-combustion persistent organic pollutants was put up in Mariveles, Bataan, to reduce the threat posed by these toxic materials to health and environment. Greenpeace, however, said the facility, which was funded by the Global Environment Facility, was not used for the commercial treatment of PCB-containing equipment.

The facility, which was established in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, is the first in Asia.

Greenpeace said the DENR should either ban PCBs or find a place where equipment containing PCBs can be dumped or treated.

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