Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of manufactured organic chemicals that contain 209 individual chlorinated chemicals (known as congeners). Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. is a staunch advocate in cases nationwide involving illnesses resulting from PCB exposure.
Concentrated PCBs are either oily liquids or solids and are clear to light yellow in color. They have no known smell or taste. There are no known natural sources of PCBs. Some commercial PCB mixtures are known in the United States by their industrial trade name, Aroclor.
PCBs Are Almost Everywhere
PCBs don't burn easily and are good insulating materials. They have been used widely as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment.
The manufacture of PCBs stopped in the United States in 1977 because of evidence that they build up in the environment and cause harmful health effects. Products containing PCBs are:
- Old fluorescent lighting fixtures
- Electrical appliances containing PCB capacitors
- Old microscope oil
- Hydraulic fluids
During the time when PCBs were manufactured, there were often no effective controls on disposal. Because they do not break down easily, PCBs are now found widely distributed in our environment. Generally their concentrations in the environment are quite low. However, the chemical properties of PCBs cause them to be concentrated up the food chain.
From Cancer to Critical Systems Damage
PCBs have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects. PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals. PCBs have also been shown to cause a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals on the:
- Immune system
- Reproductive system
- Nervous system
- Endocrine system
Studies in humans provide supportive evidence for potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of PCBs. The different health effects of PCBs may be interrelated, as alterations in one system may have significant implications for the other systems of the body.