Toxic Chemical

The Many Toxic of Polychlorinated Biphenyls or PCBs

Posted by on Feb 19, 2017 in Toxic Chemical | 0 comments

Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs are a group of 209 different chemicals which the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency has classified as probable human cancer-causing compounds. The National Toxicology Program and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have also determined that PCBs are linked to breast cancer and increase rates of liver cancer, biliary tract cancer, gall bladder cancer, brain cancer, gastrointestinal tract cancer and melanomas.

Other adverse effects linked to PCB exposure include:

  • Decrease in birth weight and head size, lowered performance on behavioral tests, standardized memory, psychomotor and behavioral tests, as well as lowered IQ. These effects were found in a group of children in Michigan whose mothers had been exposed to PCB;
  • Occupationally exposure to PCBs (in upstate New York) resulted to shorter pregnancies and shortened menstrual cycles among a group of women;
  • Reduced sperm counts, premature puberty, altered sex organs, and changed sex ratios of children;
  • Disturbs the amount of some immune system elements, such as T cells and lymphocytes; and,
  • Increased incidences of ear infections and chickenpox (this was shown in a study of Dutch children).

The most common ways of being exposed to PCBs include:

  • Eating contaminated fish, such as those from Lake Ontario;
  • Breathing in of PCB polluted air which abound, especially, near contaminated sites, such as the Hudson Valley;
  • Swimming in highly contaminated water, although only small amounts of PCBs may enter the body from this activity.

Note: Municipalities where the Hudson River is used as a source of drinking water assure residents that no detectable levels of PCBs are found in their water supply.

As PCBs enter a person´s body, these are absorbed into fat tissues and remain there, accumulating over the years. A fish that absorbs PCBs by eating plankton, therefore, stores these in its body fat. Breast-feeding women, who eat contaminated fish, can pass on PCBs to their infants through breast milk.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned PCBs in 1979. Before this, however, General Electric was said to have dumped about 1.3 million pounds of different types of PCBs into the Hudson River from 1946 to 1977.

From 1935 until 1977, Monsanto, the sole manufacturer of PCBs, used the chemical to insulate electronics. Besides this and other uses that included capacitors, transformers, microscope oils, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, electric appliances like television sets and refrigerators, plasticizers, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, paints, surface coatings, and carbonless duplicating paper, PCBs were also sprayed on dirt roads to keep the dust down.

Despite the many uses of PCBs, its many toxic adverse effects and negligent handling have only resulted to so many lawsuits filed by those already harmed by this poisonous substance. Getting in touch immediately with a PCB lawsuit attorney, as soon as you are able to discover that you have been harmed by this substance may enable you to pursue a legal action for the compensation that you and your family may legally deserve.

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