The Problem

PCBS: ONE-HUNDRED YEARS OF DEVASTATION

Trillions of dollars of toxicity damage done to waterways, land, and human health.

PCBS: ONE-HUNDRED YEARS OF DEVASTATION

Trillions of dollars of toxicity damage done to waterways, land, and human health.

PCBs: An Immortal Poison

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of persistent, dangerous man-made chemicals. Developed in 1929, PCBs were used widely across the world in flame retardants of everyday goods, the insulating material in electrical equipment, such as transformers and capacitors, and also in heat transfer fluids and in lubricants. PCBs were finally banned in 1979, but the irreversible damage was done as every industrialized nation in the world used PCBs, finding its way into the land and waterways.

Even in present day, PCBs continue to be released into the environment through spills, leaks from outdated electrical and other equipment, and improper disposal and storage. It is estimated that more than half of the PCBs ever produced have been released into the environment causing worldwide damage into the multi-trillions of dollars as a result of poisonous waterways, unusable land, toxic fish, and human health risk and exposures causing disease.

PCB contamination has been linked to human cancer as well as liver dysfunction, digestive disorders, chloracne, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. PCBs can also affect the respiratory, immune, nervous systems and cause a variety of reproductive disorders, including male sterility, developmental abnormalities, learning disorders and birth defects.

PCBs: GE’s and the EPA’s Toxic Legacy

The most prominent and largest PCB contaminated Superfund site is the Hudson River. For decades, General Electric (GE) dumped PCBs into Hudson’s water which settled into the sediments contaminating the fish, and aquatic ecosystem. Hudson River is so toxic that communities living on or near the Hudson have documented cases of increased disease and health issues. Additionally, fish from the Hudson have been sampled over the years and continue to contain dangerously high PCB levels, causing decimation to a once prosperous fishing economy.

Unfortunately, there hasn't existed any PCB remediation solution that has worked for extracting PCBs from contaminated sediments. GE has spent billions of dollars on solutions proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has not remedied the problem. GE and many other potentially liable parties, continue to try to clean Superfund sites via dredging, but all dredging does is resuspend the contaminants not to mention being highly invasive and destructive method to the aquatic ecosystem. Current solutions continue to be ineffective at remediating PCBs from sediments; it's time for innovation.