Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | October 14, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says PCBs are still with us and pose latent environmental and health liabilities.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are no longer produced in the United States, but they can still be found in the environment. PCBs are either solids or oily liquids that are colorless to light yellow.

PCBs also can exist as vapor in air. PCBs were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment because they do not burn easily and are good insulators.

In 1977, the United States stopped the manufacture of PCBs because of evidence that they built up in the environment and could harm health.  Large quantities of PCBs have been placed in landfill sites, mainly in the form of transformers and capacitors.

People exposed to high levels of PCBs in the workplace or after large accidental exposures may have skin conditions, such as acne or rashes.

Studies in workers exposed to high levels of PCBs have shown changes in blood and urine that may indicate liver damage. Low level PCB exposures in the general population are not likely affect the skin and liver.

Infants can be exposed to PCBs from the mother’s blood before they are born and from breast milk that contains PCBs. Some, but not all, studies have shown a link between infant exposure to PCBs and lower scores on specific types of developmental tests. These studies also show that these subtle effects may disappear with time.

U.S. EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have classified some PCBs as likely to cause cancer in humans. PCBs have been linked with other possible health effects including effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

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