What Are PCBs?

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Recently, doctors have begun to recognize and alert the public to the health dangers of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), which have been used in many common commercial products. PCBs were commonly used as fluids for insulation, cooling, hydraulics, paints, water-proofing compounds, and many other uses. PCBs can contaminate the environment through use and disposal, and it is believed that a large percentage of Americans may have already been exposed to dangerous levels of the substance.

The main producer of PCB’s in the United States was the Monsanto Company, who took over commercial production from the Swann Chemical Company in 1929. PCBs were produced with little or no regulation until the 1970’s. From 1930-1977, Monsanto marketed the mixture as Aroclor until production of PCBs was banned by the United States Congress in 1979.

PCBs in the United States

While Aroclor was one of the most common brands of polychlorinated biphenyls, other brands that were marketed in the United States included:

  • Asbestol
  • Askarel
  • Bakola131
  • Chlorextol
  • Hydol
  • Interteen
  • Noflamol
  • Pyranol
  • Saf-T-Kuhl
  • Therminol

While the toxicity of PCBs was noticed and documented by scientists as early as the 1930’s, concerns about public health did not stop production until the late 1970’s.

Health Problems and PCBs

PCB contamination is a problem that is beginning to impact the public discussion. Some scientists believe that the average American may have been exposed to dangerous levels of PCBs without even being aware of it. PCB contamination may cause serious health problems including:

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Serious skin conditions (including rashes and chloracne)
  • Liver damage

It Is important for individuals to be aware of the dangers of PCB exposure and to understand how this substance can affect your health and well-being.

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