PCBs in Everyday Items
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are still being produced and we are still coming in direct contact with them. They pose a real threat to human health and the environment.
What are PCBs?
PCBs are a group of manmade chemicals that have been manufactured since 1929 because they don't burn easily and are good insulating materials and plasticizers. They were banned from manufacture and use in the United States in 1979 due to health risks, however, they are still found in everyday products due to Congress allowing exceptions such as being produced as an inadvertent contaminant in things like caulk, paint, dyes, and pigments.
Where are PCBs found?
PCBs are currently allowed to be used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications. The regulations allowing use and distribution are discussed at NTTC's Potential PCB Regulatory Revisions page.
How can I be exposed to PCBs?
How can PCBs affect my health or the environment?
What can I do?
Tribal participation in EPA’s January 2013 consultation call documented the following comments (four tribal participants participated in the call):
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation Department of Natural Resources offered the following comments on the US EPA’s proposed rules regarding the Reassessment of Use Authorizations for PCBs in (August 2010):
See CTUIR DNR's comment letter for details on pre-existing right to take fish that are safe to consume and the disproportionate environmental and public health impacts on tribal populations such as CTUIR.
Please submit your experiences (successes/challenges) and tribal-specific documents to share on our website using the attached form:
Case Study template
Nonlegacy PCBs: Pigment Manufacturing By-Products Get a Second Look, 8-page in Environmental Health Perspectives by Elizabeth Grossman, Mar 2013.
EPA Fact Sheet – PCBs Update: Impact on Fish Advisories, September 1999 7-page includes sources, fate and transport, fish advisories, consumption limits, toxicity:
Marcor Environmental – PCBs in Common Building Materials, March 2008 29-page compilation of article, slides, research studies:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Fact Sheet: Sources of PCBs, 11-page, August 2003:
EPA Fact Sheet – PCBs in Caulk, 3-page fact sheet with best management practices for reducing risk, testing, removal, and research:
EPA Fact Sheet – PCBs in Caulk Q/A, 14-page includes PCB Exposure and Risk, PCB-containing caulk in school and other buildings, research, reducing PCB exposure:
EPA Fact Sheet – Preventing Exposure to PCBs in Caulking Material, 4-page flyer with pictures:
United Nations Environment Programme – Guidelines for the Identification of PCBs and Materials Containing PCBs, 40-page, August 1999:
Wisconsin Division of Public Health – Health Effects of PCBs (Eating contaminated fish remains the major route of exposure to PCBs):
EPA’s Watershed Assessment, Tracking & Environmental Results (to search for PCB-impaired waters):
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Environmental Health Materials on PCBs:
EPA Fish Consumption Advisories with Advanced Interactive Maps and Searches:
Oregon Health Authority’s Guidelines to Reducing Your Exposure to PCBs and Other Fat-oluble Contaminants in Fish:
http://public.health.oregon.gov/ healthyenvironments/ Environmental Exposures/ ToxicSubstances/ Pages/ pcbs.aspx
Illinois Department of Public Health’s FAQ about PCBs:
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s Fish Links – PCBs in Fish Caught in CA: Information for People Who Eat Fish:
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s Fish Links – PCBs in Sport Fish: Answers to Questions on Health Effects:
EPA R9 2012 PCBs In Caulk Training – 58 slides:
Food Sources of PCB chemical pollutants, 1:13:
PCBs in Ballasts & Caulk; Clean, Green and Healthy Tribal Schools, 19:40 Includes a description of PCBs, where they can be found, bioaccumulation, reducing exposure in schools.
Toxicity of PCBs and the effects of PCB contamination in foods, water and natural resources which can lead serious side effects such as endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity, 39:13:
PCBs in the Hudson River, dredging and treatment; 5:46:
Learn more about PCBs by watching "PCBs in our environment," 8:04:
US Warning Do Not Eat the Fish in the Columbia River, newscast, 0:31:
PCB Video by IAQ Video Network, 2:36: