Standard Active Last Updated: Dec 13, 2018 Track Document
ASTM D4059-00(2018)

Standard Test Method for Analysis of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Insulating Liquids by Gas Chromatography

Standard Test Method for Analysis of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Insulating Liquids by Gas Chromatography D4059-00R18 ASTM|D4059-00R18|en-US Standard Test Method for Analysis of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Insulating Liquids by Gas Chromatography Standard new BOS Vol. 10.03 Committee D27
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Significance and Use

5.1 United States governmental regulations mandate that electrical apparatus and electrical insulating fluids containing PCB be handled and disposed of through specific procedures. The procedure to be used for a particular apparatus or quantity of insulating fluid is determined by the PCB content of the fluid. The results of this analytical technique can be useful in selecting the appropriate handling and disposal procedure.

5.2 Quantification in this technique requires a peak-by-peak comparison of the chromatogram of an unknown specimen with that of standard Aroclor test specimens obtained under identical conditions. The amount of PCB producing each peak in the standard chromatogram shall be known independently.

5.3 The technique described is based on data for standard chromatograms of Aroclors 1242, 1254, and 1260 obtained using specific chromatographic column packing materials and operating conditions.4 Relevant chromatograms are reproduced in Fig. 1, Fig. 2, and Fig. 35, for isothermal packed columns and in Figs. X4.1 through X4.3) for temperature programmed mega-bore capillary columns. Each peak is identified by its retention time relative to that of a standard. The types and amounts of PCB associated with each peak have been determined by mass spectroscopy and are given in Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3.4 Other chromatographic operating conditions, and in particular, other column packing materials, may give different separations. The data given in the tables should not be used if chromatograms of the standards differ significantly from those shown in the figures. The peaks in such standard chromatograms shall be independently identified and quantified.

5.4 Different isomers of PCB with the same number of chlorine substituents can cause substantially different responses from EC detectors. Mixtures of PCB containing the same amount of PCB, but with a different ratio of isomers, can give quite different chromatograms. This technique is effective only when the standard PCB mixtures and those found in the unknown test specimen are closely related. Aroclors 1242, 1254, and 1260 are adequate standards because they have been found to be the most common PCB contaminant in electrical insulating oils.


1.1 This test method describes a quantitative determination of the concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in electrical insulating liquids by gas chromatography. It also applies to the determination of PCB present in mixtures known as askarels, used as electrical insulating liquids.

1.2 The PCB mixtures known as Aroclors2 were used in the formulation of the PCB-containing askarels manufactured in the United States. This test method may be applied to the determination of PCBs in insulating liquids contaminated by either individual Aroclors or mixtures of Aroclors. This technique may not be applicable to the determination of PCBs from other sources of contamination.

1.3 The precision and bias of this test method have been established only for PCB concentrations in electrical insulating mineral oils and silicones. The use of this test method has not been demonstrated for all insulating fluids. Some insulating liquids, such as halogenated hydrocarbons, interfere with the detection of PCBs and cannot be tested without pretreatment.

1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 10.03
Developed by Subcommittee: D27.03
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.1520/D4059-00R18
ICS Code: 29.040.10