What You Need to Know About PCB Exposure?

Key takeaways:

  • PCB exposure occurs through contaminated soil or water near industrial sites, old electrical equipment within homes, consumption of fish with high PCB levels, and even from materials like caulk used in buildings constructed before 1978.
  • Symptoms of PCB exposure include skin conditions like rashes and acne, neurological issues such as headaches and dizziness, respiratory problems, liver dysfunction signals like jaundice, thyroid disturbances, menstrual irregularities for women, and gastrointestinal discomforts.
  • If experiencing symptoms consistent with PCB exposure or residing near potential contamination sources, seeking medical attention is essential. Gather evidence such as medical records if considering a lawsuit for adverse health effects due to PCB contact.

What You Need to Know About PCB Exposure?

On this page, we’ll discuss what you need to know about PCB exposure, where PCB contamination is found in the environment, who qualifies to file a PCB exposure lawsuit, and much more.

Intro To The PCB Exposure

Polychlorinated biphenyls pose significant risks to public and environmental health, yet they are often unnoticed in our modern environment.

What You Need to Know About PCB Exposure

Despite being banned in the United States since 1979 due to their toxicity, these persistent organic pollutants still cast a long shadow over human well-being and ecosystem integrity.

The silent pervasion of PCBs into various facets of life and their compelling challenge mark an urgent need for widespread awareness.

If you or a loved one has experienced adverse health conditions after being exposed to PCB chemicals, you may be eligible to pursue compensation.

Contact TruLawsuit Info today using the chat on this page to receive an instant case evaluation.

Table of Contents

Understanding Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated Biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, are a class of man-made chemicals that have historically been valued for their stability and electrical insulation properties.

These persistent organic pollutants have left a lasting imprint on the environment—posing significant risks to human health following widespread industrial use and improper disposal methods.

Commercial Uses for PCBs

PCBs had many uses before experts learned how dangerous they were.

Companies use PCBs in electrical equipment like transformers and capacitors because they don’t catch fire easily.

They were also found in hydraulic oils, plasticizers, and other industrial products.

Electrical devices all over the world rely on PCB mixtures for safety and performance.

Old fluorescent lighting fixtures often contained PCBs to prevent fires or overheating.

Even today, some old buildings might still have these materials inside.

People started realizing that these oily liquids could harm our health and the environment.

This led to strict rules about making, using, and getting rid of PCBs.

Now we focus more on handling and disposing of them safely at special facilities.

Release and Exposure of PCBs

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, once had many uses in electrical and other industrial equipment.

Over time, these chemicals have ended up in our environment.

They get into the air, water, and soil when old equipment breaks down or during the disposal of PCB materials.

People come across PCBs when they breathe air near hazardous waste sites or eat fish from contaminated lakes.

Fish become tainted with PCBs because the chemicals build up in their bodies over time.

High levels of PCBs can also be found at factories that made or used them a lot.

Workers may touch or inhale dust with PCB mixtures during repair or demolition of older transformers and capacitors containing these toxic substances.

Without proper safety steps, this puts them at risk for serious health problems.

How Are People Exposed to PCBs?

Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, remains a significant environmental health concern as these toxic compounds find their way into our daily lives through various pathways.

Individuals may unwittingly come into contact with PCBs amid everyday activities, raising important questions about the sources and risks of such exposure.

Consumption of Contaminated Foods

Eating contaminated food is one way people come in contact with PCBs.

Fish that swim in polluted waters can contain high levels of these chemicals.

When someone eats this fish, PCBs enter their body and build up over time.

This buildup can cause health issues because PCBs don’t break down easily.

Families might feed on dairy products or meat from animals exposed to PCBs as well.

These chemicals stick to fat and may pass along the food chain to humans.

Health risks increase for people who consume a lot of fish or animal products with PCB contamination, including threats to immune systems and reproductive health.

Occupational Exposure

Workers in certain industries face a higher chance of coming into contact with PCBs.

Electricians, transformer repair personnel, and those involved in the manufacture of electrical devices may be exposed.

Handling old equipment such as PCB transformers or capacitors can lead to direct skin contact or inhalation of PCBs.

This type of exposure can lead to increased liver enzymes and potential liver damage.

Workers might develop skin conditions like chloracne that result from handling contaminated materials.

They could also experience breathing problems.

Safety measures are crucial for exposed workers.

Wearing protective gear helps reduce risks when dealing with materials containing PCBs.

Regular medical tests are important too, especially for those who handle these chemicals often.

This way, any health issues related to PCB exposures can be caught early on.

Protecting employees from health hazards associated with polychlorinated biphenyls is an ongoing concern in occupational safety practices.

It’s vital for workplaces to follow strict regulations and guidelines to keep their staff safe from the adverse effects of these compounds.

Exposure to Contaminated Building Materials

Old buildings sometimes have materials that contain PCBs.

These might be in things like paint, caulk, and floor finishes.

PCBs can get into the air when these materials break down over time or during renovation work.

This means people who live or work there could breathe them in.

Schools and office buildings built before 1979 may still have PCBs if they haven’t been removed yet.

Handling these materials without knowing they contain PCBs can expose workers to health risks.

Safety measures are very important to prevent breathing in or touching these harmful chemicals.

Properly removing and disposing of building parts with PCBs protects everyone’s health.

It is crucial for those doing the removal to wear protective gear such as gloves and masks.

They must follow laws about how to handle dangerous substances like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) safely.

Adverse Health Effects of PCB Exposure

Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, can have significant and diverse health implications, ranging from potential carcinogenic outcomes to disruptions in bodily functions.

Research has uncovered a multifaceted spectrum of adverse effects that these persistent chemicals may impose on human health, illuminating the need for awareness and precautionary measures.

Cancer Risk

Scientists classify PCBs as probable human carcinogens.

This means they believe PCBs might cause cancer in humans.

Studies show a link between PCB exposure and certain cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma, liver, intestinal, brain, and breast cancer.

Workers handling PCBs for a long time face higher chances of getting these cancers.

They get exposed by touching or breathing in PCBs at work.

Even people who don’t work with PCBs can get sick from eating fish contaminated with these chemicals.

Everyone has some risk because PCBs build up in body fat over time.

Knowing where your risks come from is essential to better protect your health.

Non-Cancer Effects

If you eat fish with PCBs or breathe air near contaminated sites, you might face serious health issues.

Your liver could get damaged since PCBs push liver enzymes to dangerous levels.

This can be a big problem because your liver cleans out toxins from your body.

Skin troubles like chloracne might also pop up if you’re around PCBs.

It’s an ugly rash that can make life really uncomfortable.

Even worse are the effects on babies when moms eat fish full of PCBs while pregnant.

Newborns might have low birth weights and developmental problems, which aren’t easy fixes.

Being around PCB mixtures is part of the job for folks working at places like electrical transformers or capacitor factories.

They need to stay sharp about their exposure risks every single day.

In these areas, heavy exposure over long periods can cause weakness in muscles and nerves that control movement and feeling sensations.

Remember this: safety starts with knowing what harms us—like PCBs—and then steering clear whenever possible!

Immune Effects

Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, can weaken your body’s defense system.

This means you might get sick more often if you have these chemicals in your body.

Studies show that people with PCBs in their systems may not fight off germs as well as they should.

Working around PCBs can change how your immune system works.

Your liver could also be at risk because PCB exposure increases liver enzymes.

This shows that the chemicals might make it harder for your immune system to do its job.

Some people exposed to PCBs face a greater chance of getting diabetes.

Since diabetes is linked to immune problems, this tells us that PCBs might mess with immune regulation too.

All these effects are important reasons why we must be careful about coming into contact with PCB-contaminated fish and sites with high levels of these harmful substances.

Reproductive Effects

PCBs can harm unborn babies and affect a woman’s ability to have children.

If a mom eats fish with PCBs, it could change how her baby grows before birth.

Scientists found that these chemicals might make it hard for women to get pregnant or could cause problems with their menstrual cycles.

Studies show eating PCB-contaminated fish can lead to less baby weight and hurt a child’s development.

Both men and women can face fertility issues if they are around too many PCBs.

The risks are serious, and knowing what foods have PCBs helps families stay safe.

Neurological Effects

Exposure to PCBs can harm the brain and nerves.

These chemicals may cause trouble with learning, memory, and behavior.

Studies on animals show that PCBs damage nerve cells and affect how the brain works.

People who have eaten a lot of PCB-contaminated fish might face these problems.

Children seem more at risk than adults.

Research finds that when mothers have higher levels of PCBs in their bodies, it could impact their babies’ brains.

This means kids exposed to these chemicals before birth might not do as well in school or pay attention as easily.

It’s important for families to know about the dangers of eating fish from polluted waters to keep everyone safe from neurological effects linked with PCB exposure.

Endocrine Effects

PCBs disrupt the endocrine system, which controls hormones in your body.

Hormones help manage growth, energy levels, and reproduction.

When PCBs enter your system, they may change how your thyroid works.

Your thyroid makes important hormones that affect many parts of your body.

Studies show animals exposed to PCBs have changes in their thyroid hormone levels.

This can lead to health problems for them.

It’s similar for humans; PCB exposure might alter the balance of thyroid hormones in our bloodstream.

People with high amounts of PCBs might be more likely to get goiters—a condition where the thyroid gland grows too large.

Research on rhesus monkeys found that female monkeys exposed to these chemicals had trouble with their menstrual cycles and getting pregnant.

Some even lost their babies before birth due to exposure.

These findings are key because they show us what could happen in humans after long-term contact with PCBs.

Specific Health Problems Associated with PCB Exposure

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are known to cause various health complications.

These health complications can range from thyroid disruption to liver dysfunction, each with its own set of grave implications for human well-being.

Thyroid Hormone Toxicity

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can interfere with thyroid hormone functions.

Here’s a detailed look at how PCBs affect thyroid health:

  1. Hormone Level Disruption: PCBs may cause thyroid hormone levels to drop, adversely affecting bodily functions controlled by the thyroid, such as growth and cognitive development.
  2. Health Implications: Disrupted hormone levels could lead to difficulty focusing and memory, impacting everyday life and work productivity.
  3. Risks in Specific Groups: People who work in environments with PCB exposure, like certain industries, are at a higher risk of thyroid-related health issues, potentially leading to increased diabetes cases in these populations.

Skin Conditions

Exposure to PCBs can lead to various skin conditions.

Understanding these effects helps in identifying and addressing PCB exposure:

  1. Chloracne: This serious acne-like condition, characterized by blackheads, cysts, and pustules, commonly affects workers handling PCBs.
  2. Skin Discoloration and Thickening: PCB exposure can cause changes in skin color and texture, leading to thickened, rougher skin.
  3. Workplace Monitoring: Those exposed to PCBs in occupational settings should be vigilant for any unusual skin changes, as early detection can aid in minimizing long-term effects.

Increased Risk for Cardiovascular and Liver Disease

The impact of PCBs on cardiovascular and liver health is significant.

Here’s an insight into these health risks:

  1. Heart Health: PCB exposure can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol issues, increasing the risk of heart disease and impacting heart function.
  2. Liver Damage: PCBs can elevate liver enzyme levels, indicating potential liver damage, which might lead to conditions like fatty liver disease or liver cancer.
  3. Population at Risk: Those consuming contaminated fish or working around PCBs daily face higher risks for these diseases, making awareness and protective measures crucial.

Impact on Birth Weight and Conception Rates

PCB exposure can significantly affect reproductive health and infant development:

  1. Lower Birth Weights: Consuming PCB-contaminated fish has been linked with reduced birth weights, posing long-term health risks for infants.
  2. Reproductive Challenges: High PCB levels can disrupt menstrual cycles in women and reduce fertility in men, complicating conception efforts.
  3. Preventative Measures: Avoiding contaminated fish is especially important for expecting mothers, as it can help safeguard their babies’ health and development.

Healthy choices can help protect future generations from the harmful effects of these dangerous chemicals.

Legal Regulations Regarding PCBs

To mitigate the risks associated with PCBs, a stringent legal framework has been established to govern their manufacture, use, and disposal.

At the forefront of this regulatory effort is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which enforces rules that specifically address polychlorinated biphenyls through comprehensive directives found in Part 761 of Title 40 in the Code of Federal Regulations.

These regulations are critical for protecting public health and preventing new exposures from occurring within our environments.

Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

The Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA for short, is a key law that helps keep us safe from dangerous chemicals like PCBs.

It lays down the rules for how these substances should be handled, used, and thrown away.

Under this act, PCBs are closely watched because they can pollute our environment and harm our health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses TSCA to limit what can be done with PCBs.

TSCA makes sure workers who might come into contact with PCBs know the right way to handle them.

This prevents accidents at work and keeps everyone safer.

Companies have to follow specific ways of getting rid of PCBs so they don’t end up hurting nature or people’s health.

If you’re worried about how being around PCBs has affected you or someone you love, knowing about TSCA is important.

PCB Regulations: Part 761 in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations

Part 761 in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations lays down strict rules on PCBs.

These laws control how we use, handle, and dispose of PCB materials.

They also set limits on PCB levels in products and the environment.

These regulations aim to protect people from harmful PCB exposure.

Companies must follow safe disposal practices for items like electrical transformers and capacitors that have PCBs.

If they don’t, they can get into serious trouble.

Workers dealing with potential occupational carcinogens need to wear proper safety gear.

This helps reduce health risks linked with handling toxic chemicals like PCBs.

The government checks up on workplaces to make sure they are keeping up with these critical rules.


It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with PCB exposure in order to stay safe.

PCBs were once widely used, but we now know that they can be detrimental to our health.

Consuming contaminated fish or working with PCBs can pose serious hazards to our well-being.

Fortunately, laws have been put in place to control the use of PCBs and protect the public.

To avoid these dangers, it is crucial to monitor what you consume and be mindful of where you work.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are commercial PCB mixtures and why are they hazardous?

    Commercial PCB mixtures refer to the various formulations of polychlorinated biphenyls used in industrial and commercial applications.

    These mixtures were primarily used for their insulating and fire-resistant properties in electrical equipment, hydraulic systems, and other products.

  • Can PCBs be passed through breast milk, and what are the implications for infants?

    Yes, PCBs can be passed through breast milk.

    Nursing mothers who have been exposed to PCBs, either through diet (such as consumed PCB-contaminated fish) or environmental exposure, can transfer these chemicals to their infants via breast milk.

  • What health risks are associated with having consumed PCB-contaminated fish?

    Individuals who have consumed PCB-contaminated fish are at risk of several health issues.

    PCBs are known to cause a range of adverse health effects, including cancer, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, and neurological problems.

  • What are PCB disposal facilities, and how do they operate to ensure safe disposal?

    PCB disposal facilities are specialized centers designed to handle and dispose of PCB-containing materials safely.

    These facilities use methods like incineration and chemical treatment to break down PCBs into less harmful substances.

  • What is the role of the National Toxicology Program in PCBs?

    The National Toxicology Program (NTP) plays a key role in researching and providing information about the toxicological effects of PCBs.

    The NTP conducts studies to understand the health risks associated with PCB exposure, including cancer and non-cancerous health effects.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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Here, at Tru Lawsuit Info, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

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