May 25,

Health Risks of PCB’s

Health Risks of PCB's

PCBs do not easily break down and are very persistent, that is they last for many years and they are hard to destroy.  Trace levels of PCBs in the air and water are found all over the world, even in remote areas as a result of long-range transport of PCBs by global air currents, and as a result can be found in food.  This means that everyone is exposed to low levels of PCBs.

PCBs accumulate in the cells of animals and people with the highest concentrations at the top of the food chain.  Everyone is exposed to very small amounts of PCBs in food and even smaller amounts in air, soil and water. These low levels are unlikely to cause adverse health effects.

Most of what is known about the health effects of exposure to PCBs is a result of occupational exposures or accidental releases.  The current research suggests that low-level exposures to PCBs are not likely to cause adverse health effects however those people who consume large amounts of certain sport fish, wild game and marine animals may be at higher risk as fish consumption appears to be the major pathway of exposure.  Exposure from drinking water is less than from food.  In water, a small amount of PCBs may remain dissolved, but most stick to organic particles and bottom sediments.  PCBs bind strongly to soil and can be found around the world.

Last modified on Aug 21, 2012