What are Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)?
Polychlorinated biphenyls are mixtures of up to 209 individual
chlorinated compounds (known as congeners). There are no known
natural sources of PCBs. PCBs are either oily liquids or solids
that are colorless to light yellow. Some PCBs can exist as a
vapor in air. PCBs have no known smell or taste. Many commercial
PCB mixtures are known in the U.S. by the trade name Aroclor.
PCBs have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers,
capacitors, and other electrical equipment because they don't
burn easily and are good insulators. The manufacture of PCBs
was stopped in the U.S. in 1977 because of evidence they build
up in the environment and can cause harmful health effects.
Products made before 1977 that may contain PCBs include old
fluorescent lighting fixtures and electrical devices containing
PCB capacitors, and old microscope and hydraulic oils.
Related Resources for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Case Study in Environmental Medicine (CSEM)
Self-instructional publication designed to increase primary
care provider's knowledge of a hazardous substance in the
environment and to aid in the evaluation of potentially
CERCLA Priority List of Hazardous Substance
Prioritization of substances based on a combination of their
frequency, toxicity, and potential for human exposure at
National Priorities List (NPL) sites.
Expert Panel Workshop
Proceedings of the expert panel workshop convened by ATSDR
to identify and evaluate all pertinent information related
to the public health implications of human exposure to PCBs.
- National Report Human Exposure to Environmental
Provides an ongoing assessment of the exposure of the U.S.
population to environmental chemicals using biomonitoring.
- Dioxins, Furans, and Dioxin-Like Polychlorinated
- Non-Dioxin-Like Polychlorinated Biphenyls
- Interaction Profiles
Succintly characterizes the toxicologic and adverse
health effects information for mixtures of hazardous substances.
Minimal Risk Level (MRL)
Intended to serve as a screening tool to help public health
professionals decide where to look more closely.
Public Health Implications of Exposure to PCBs
Paper summarizes the health implications associated with
exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), primarily
through fish consumption.
Public Health Statement
Summary about a hazardous substance taken from Chapter One
of its respective ATSDR Toxicological Profile.
Fact sheet that answers the most frequently asked questions
about a contaminant and its health effects.
ToxFAQ: Chemical Agent Briefing Sheets (CABS)
Briefing sheets that provide current and relevant scientific
information on specific high profile chemicals.
Succinctly characterizes the toxicologic and adverse health
effects information for a hazardous substance.