Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 23, pp 19098–19103 | Cite as

Transformer oils as a potential source of environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs): an assessment in three central provinces of Iran

  • Reza Saeedi
  • Saeed Khakzad
  • Ali Koolivand
  • Sina Dobaradaran
  • Shokooh Sadat Khaloo
  • Sahand Jorfi
  • Mehrnoosh Abtahi
Research Article


Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination of oils from all transformers of the national electrical grid in Tehran, Qom, and Alborz, three central provinces of Iran, was assessed. The concentration of PCBs in transformer oils was determined by gas chromatography. At the national level, the proportions of transformers with oil PCB contents of <5, 5–49, 50–499, 500–4999, and >5000 ppm were determined to be 85.7, 12.4, 1.6, 0.1, and 0.1%, respectively. About 0.5% of transformer oils (66,000 kg out of 13,342,000 kg) exhibited PCB levels higher than 50 ppm that based on the Stockholm Convention should be phased out before 2025. The contaminated oils contained 91.4% of detected PCBs (132 kg PCBs out of 144 kg PCBs) and were located in 1.9% of transformers (27 transformers out of 1449 transformers). Statistical analysis indicated that the year of manufacture and manufacturing company provided significant effects on PCB contamination (p value <0.001). PCB contamination of transformer oils in Tehran was higher than that of the other provinces that could be mainly caused by the older average year of manufacture. PCB levels higher than 499 ppm were also observed only in Tehran. This study provided valuable information for future studies on identification of PCB-contaminated transformers as well as planning and design of waste management facilities for PCB-contaminated oils at the national level.


Polychlorinated biphenyls Transformer oils Stockholm Convention Environmental contamination Occupational exposure Waste management 



This research was supported by funding from the Iran Grid Management Company.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Sciences, School of Health, Safety and EnvironmentShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Virtual Education, School of Medical Education SciencesShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of HealthArak University of Medical SciencesArakIran
  4. 4.The Persian Gulf Marine Biotechnology Research CenterBushehr University of Medical SciencesBushehrIran
  5. 5.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Faculty of HealthBushehr University of Medical SciencesBushehrIran
  6. 6.Systems Environmental Health, Oil, Gas and Energy Research CenterBushehr University of Medical SciencesBushehrIran
  7. 7.School of Health, Safety and EnvironmentShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  8. 8.Environmental Technology Research CenterAhvaz Jundishapur University of Medical SciencesAhvazIran
  9. 9.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthAhvaz Jundishapur University of Medical SciencesAhvazIran
  10. 10.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

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