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The Dangerous Effects of PCBs

Posted on May 1, 2015 by in Pollutants | 0 comments

Polychlorinated binephyls or PCBs became a huge topic of discussion in the late 1970s, when various government agencies and environmental organizations raised concerns about its toxicity. Up to this point, PCBs were widely used in a variety of industrial and commercial materials. The chemical substance was solely manufactured by the chemical corporation Monsanto, and was sold under the brand name Aroclor. Estimates show that PCB production earned the company around $10 million in profits.

Confidential internal reports showed that Monsanto PCBs have been responsible for polluting creeks and other near-by areas surrounding the company’s factor in Anniston, Alabama. According to in-depth reporting by Michael Grunwald for The Washington Post, Monsanto leaders have been aware of the PCB pollution issue a full decade before a ban was issued by the U.S. Congress in 1979. Internal communications showed that Monsanto have observed how fishes and other wildlife was affected by PCB in the contaminated Snow Creek where they routinely dumped toxic waste and by-products. A report from 1966 described how fishes in the creek were affected by PCBs: “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3 1/2 minutes.”

Considering its devastating effects on the wildlife of Anniston, it comes as no surprise that PCBs have similarly dangerous effects on the health of human beings. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes PCBs as probable human carcinogens. The agency also adds other non-cancer health risks to the list of potential dangers caused by the chemical substance. Notable scientific studies have found links between PCB exposure and complications with the immune, endocrine, nervous, and reproductive systems in animal and human systems. PCBs can also cause other medical conditions such as liver damage, elevations in blood pressure, and increasing serum triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

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