How You Can Be Exposed to PCBs Today
Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs have long been banned in the United States. While PCBs have proven to be useful for a variety of industrial and commercial purposes, they ultimately caused too much environmental destruction to be beneficial.
Even when more than three decades have passed since the U.S. federal government ensured the cessation of PCB production, its lingering effects can still be felt today. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways that people can still be exposed to PCBs and suffer from health risks associated with the toxic chemical compounds. For one, there are still a number of older model transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment that contain PCBs. Older appliances like TVs and refrigerators also made use of PCBs as an effective coolant and insulator, as well as some construction materials that might be present in residential and commercial buildings. In these cases, people can become exposed to PCBs when small amounts contaminate the air. This is especially alarming for indoor areas, where the air is insulated and the PCB levels can rise. PCBs can also leak out from the aforementioned sources and risk individuals to skin exposure.
People can also be exposed to PCBs through other sources in their surroundings. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, small traces of PCBs can be found almost anywhere—air, soil, sediments, water, and even animals. Most of the time, these sources won’t contain enough PCBs to cause alarming effects. However, for areas that were most devastated by Monsanto PCBs pollution, people still face the risk of ingesting fish, meat, and dairy products that are contaminated by PCBs. Residents living in areas like Anniston, Alabama—the city where the Monsanto chemical plant was located—can also be exposed to PCBs through ingesting contaminated water.
Some individuals can also be exposed to PCBs in their own workplace. For individuals working in construction or maintenance, the threat of PCB exposure can be particularly significant. Workers who will need to come into contact with older equipment containing PCBs can suffer considerable health conditions caused by the toxic chemicals.