New CEN Standard - Determination of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in soil, treated biowaste and sludge  

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) are a group of artificial chemicals that were extensively used in the past as additives in industrial applications such as electrical and hydraulic equipment and lubricants. Because of their high toxicity and suspected carcinogenicity, their production was discontinued in the 80s, and the European Commission  set clear rules for their complete disposal. Nevertheless, due to their resistance and ease of transport, they are easily dispersed and have been detected virtually everywhere.

For this reason, their presence in the environment (air, water, soil, sediment and waste) is constantly monitored and controlled in laboratories by means of gas chromatography in combination with mass spectrometric detection (GC-MS) or gas chromatography with an electron capture detector (GC-ECD). The newly published standard EN 16167:2018, developed within the framework of the EU project  'HORIZONTAL', is dedicated to these measuring techniques.

Standard EN 16167:2018, which innovates on the previous version EN 16167:2012, aims at providing an evaluation of the latest developments in assessing PCB in sludge, soil, and treated biowaste. It specifies a method for quantitative determination of seven selected PCB (PCB28, PCB52, PCB101, PCB118, PCB138, PCB153 and PCB180) in sludge, treated biowaste and soil. Since it deals with different types of materials, characteristics and chemical products, the standard does not limit itself to indicate only one measuring method, but it provides a series of preferred choices, based on a matrix of characteristics represented through decision tables. 

The Standard has been realised under the responsibility of CEN/TC 444 - Test methods for environmental characterization of solid matrices. Its secretariat is currently held by NEN - the Netherlands Standardization Institute.

Contact person for more information: Andrea Nam