Region 8

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

View a large, informative "PCBs, Mining and Water Pollution" poster
This informative poster, designed to be printed on 11x17 paper, includes PCB properties and uses, consequences of abandonment, health and environmental effects, proposed solutions, and more.

On this page:


Introduction

Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, and electrical insulating properties, polychorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were used as dielectric fluid in various types of electrical equipment including heat transfer systems, fluorescent lamp ballasts, television sets, and numerous other kinds of electrical appliances. In addition, PCBs were used as plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products, in pigments, dyes, carbonless copy paper and many other applications.

However, it has been discovered that PCBs are also toxic substances that are a hazard to human health and the environment. PCBs have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects. PCBs have been shown to cause cancer in animals as well as to cause a number of serious noncancer health effects in animals, including effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. Studies in humans provide supportive evidence for potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of PCBs, including negative effects on the intellectual development of children and adults.

Concerned about industrial chemical toxicity and persistence in the environment, Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (Public Law 94-469, October 11, 1976), which included prohibitions on the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of PCBs. Under TSCA, Congress mandated the regulation of PCBs from manufacture to disposal, or from "cradle to grave" throughout the U.S. PCBs are absorbed or bioconcentrate from ocean water into phytoplankton which is the basis of the ocean food chain and produce about 50 percent of the world's oxygen.

Although TSCA prohibited further manufacture, processing and distribution of PCBs, many products containing PCBs are still in use (i.e. PCB-containing electrical equipment). EPA authorizes these uses to continue as long as the equipment is properly monitored and maintained.

To learn more about EPA's rules and regulations regarding the PCB program, visit EPA's national PCB website or please do not hesitate to contact us.


PCB Publications

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

PCBs, Mining and Water Pollution

Following are two versions of "PCBs, Mining, and Water Pollution" by Dan Bench, Region 8 PCB Coordinator.

Additional papers:



Region 8 PCB Contacts

Dan W. Bench (bench.dan@epa.gov)
Region 8 PCB Coordinator
U.S. EPA, Region 8 (P-P3T)
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202-1129
303-312-6027
800-227-8917 ext. 312-6027

Francis Tran (tran.francis@epa.gov)
303-312-6036

Kim Le (le.kim@epa.gov)
Enforcement
303-312-6973

Alert! PCBs threaten you