Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Posted: 19 February 2004

PCB is a compound derived from biphenyl and containing chlorine that is used in electrical insulators, flame retardants, and plasticizers. Being stable they tend to accumulate in the environment, mainly by passage through the food chains. As a result, they are found in locations far removed from their industrial sources. Seals, fish and humans in the Arctic, for example, have traces of PCBs in their bodies. Tests have indicated that PCBs are carcinogenic and may impair the immune system. They area hazardous pollutants that are difficult to dispose of safely and have been banned in several countries.