Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
In regards to Mike Woods story on the Toronto Hydro Transformer explosion, there is something those who commented on his story, who live nearby this fire.
This information is useful for anyone who lives near a hydro station or area where a similar occurrence may have happened. What you may not know, and what the media have not told you is the possible hazards, hazards from Transformers containing PCBs as a cooling agent in pre 1980 transformers installed in the basements of pre 1980 buildings.
The cause of the fires have been determined to be caused by transformers, Ontario is noted for power outages and brownouts when summer temperatures hit an all time high and air conditioners run 24/7. Certainly not earth shattering, where similar instances are common in large cities.
Let's hope these hydro transformers are not filled with PCBs, but based on the age of the building, pre 1980, I think it is a safe bet they may be.
Best for you not to wait to find out, and do it yourself. PCBs are a known carcinogen and Burning of these PCB oils, used to cool these Hydro transformers, will ten fold the hazard in the air, certainly a concern to all who live nearby, or attend the nearby school or grocery stores produce section.
PCBs particulate can travel pretty far in the outdoor airstream, floating around and sticking to everything it touches.
Best for those who live near that neighbourhood or school in a 2 block radius, is to grab a few pairs of Latex Gloves, a Bottle of Hexane (from your local lab) and some sterile gauze wipes and small glass vial or sandwich baggies, wet the gauze with hexane and wipe down a 30cmx30cm (1square foot) surface from the outside and inside of your home, then take the hexane moistened gauze you used to wipe down the area you sampled then bag it and mark it, making sure to indicate each area sampled individually, in other words to make sure to indicate where you took each individual sample from, and get them to a local analytical lab pronto for analysis, especially if you have kids and animals. Best place to do your wipes if you have central air is wipe around the air conditioning air intake coil, or window AC, as well as your car windshield, and home windows. If it shows PCBs, I would be calling my Insurance company to get your place cleaned up. PRONTO~ If you do not want to do it yourself, calling your local Health unit may help, but don't hold your breath waiting for them to do it for you.