Uncovering The Dangers of PCB Contamination

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in PCB Contamination

PCB contamination or exposure can have a devastating effect on a person who suffers from poly-chlorinated biphenyls or (PCB) contamination. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, PCBs were banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1979. Exposure to PCB can have an impact on not only the environment but also in the human body. It is used in a wide range of products and industries such as in electrical equipment, surface coatings, inks, adhesives, and others. These substances are incinerated or stored in landfills.

In December 2000, the International Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants, drafted by 122 nations, identified PCBs as one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ chemicals that should be phased out globally. Aside from that, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency identified PCBs as a potential human carcinogen. Studies of these substances have revealed increased rates of melanoma, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, and others.

These substances are man-made and have a uniform structure. They consist of carbon, hydrogen, and chlorine atoms. As they can be easily mixed in various ways, a total of 209 different PCB molecules can be created. PCBs can build up in animals as time goes by as well as in the food chain. These substances breaks down as an indirect effect of sunlight.

How Does PCBs affect human existence?

Humans can be exposed to PCBs in a variety of ways. First of all, they get exposure through consumption of contaminated food particularly meat, fish, and poultry products. In addition, they get low level exposure from the air they breathe not only indoors but also outdoors. When absorbed by the body, PCBs make their way to cell membranes and into the blood vessels and lymphatic systems. The highest percentage of these substances are found in the liver, fatty tissue, brain, and skin.

Unlike water-soluble chemicals, PCBs are not excreted and will accumulate in the body for years. While they can break down into non-toxic substances, it may take several years.

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