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About Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

What is Polychlorinated Biphenyls?

A polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) is an odorless or mildly aromatic organic compound that can either be solids or liquids. This group of organic chemicals is banned in the United States by federal law since 1970 due to their toxicity.

The production of the organic compound in the United States is divided into open and closed applications. Polychlorinated biphenyls are used as hydraulic fluids, reactive fire retardants, stabilizing additives, inks, carbonless reproducing paper, way extenders, plasticizers in paints and cements, pesticide extenders, and lubricants and cutting oils. They are also used as de-dusting agents and as essential components in heat transfer systems.

How Does Polychlorinated Biphenyls Get into Your Drinking Water?

The contaminant may reach groundwater through runoff from landfills and improper waste management. Private wells and water systems nearby industrial companies must conduct regular water testing and maintenance to identify the presence of the pollutant.

What are the Health Risks Associated with Polychlorinated Biphenyls?

Drinking water with polychlorinated biphenyls above the enforceable level set by the EPA may lead to a variety of health issues. Skin conditions such as rashes and chloracne, reproductive problems, nervous system difficulties, issues with thymus gland, liver damage, motor control problems, and immune deficiencies are some of the common health problems individuals exposed to the contaminant may experience. Prolonged exposure to the polychlorinated biphenyl-contaminated water may also lead to an increased risk of getting cancer. PCBs play a role in the development of certain cancers according to the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC).

How Common is Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Water?

PCBs are common environmental contaminant due to their stability. Although they are not naturally occurring, they are considered among the more persistent contaminants in the environment.

What is the EPA’s Standards for Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Drinking Water?

The maximum contaminant level (MCL) for this contaminant in drinking water is 0.0005 mg/L or 500 ppb. Any reading above the set enforceable regulation for polychlorinated biphenyls may endanger the health of the public.

What is the Best Reduction Media for Removing Polychlorinated Biphenyls from Drinking Water?

The best water treatment method for removing polychlorinated biphenyls from drinking water to below 0.0005 mg/L or 500 ppb is with granular activated carbon (GAC). The media can be found in reliable water filter systems like AquaOx’s whole house water filter system. If you’re looking for an efficient way to eliminate contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls from your tap water, get a good water filter system installed at home today!

From The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

ToxFAQsâ„¢ PDF PDF Version, 35 KB

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.

Polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs molecule
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