Image by Patrick Hendry

The Problem

 

Polychlorinated Biphenyls are the Most Widespread Contaminant in the World

Polychlorinated biphenyls (​PCBs) were produced from 1929-1979 and utilized by the USA and every industrialized nation. They are now the most widely known contaminant on earth. PCBs do not degrade naturally, existing in virtually every major waterway where they poison wildlife, habitats, communities, and people. The Stockholm Convention requires parties to phase out PCB use in equipment by 2025 and ensure worldwide elimination of PCB by 2028. 83% of global PCB contamination stockpiles remain to be eliminated.

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94% of U.S. rivers and streams sampled by the EPA contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
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Current Remediation Methods

Even today, PCBs contaminate the environment through spills, leaks from outdated electrical and other equipment, and improper disposal and storage.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. PCBs have caused worldwide damage of trillions of dollars due to contaminated waterways and soil that cause disease to fish and humans. Current remediation methods are cost-prohibitive, pose significant health threats to humans, wildlife, and the environment. In many cases, traditional remediation methods fail to permanently eliminate the contaminants – often producing toxic by-products when incinerated or leaching of contaminants if landfilled.

Health Effects

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