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PCBs consumer products: Despite ban, dangerous chemicals still in items

PCBs consumer products are still being detected despite their ban decades ago. Humans come in contact with items containing the harmful chemicals every day ranging from newspapers to food boxes. PCBs is a category of toxic chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The Washington State Department of Ecology released a report on these findings August 7th.

Even though the PCBs chemicals were banned 35 years ago, a byproduct of certain chemicals from those are detected in consumer packaging and other manufactured goods.

Human risks are associated with polychlorinated biphenyls,cancer, endocrine issues, weakening immune system, and developmental issues, For Effective Government reports.

"Evidence of PCBs’ toxicity and tendency to accumulate in the environment led to their ban in 1979 under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)," the report states.

PCBs consumer products were deemed dangerous after it was discovered that PCBs falls into a group of chemicals known as PBTs -- “persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic.” This means that they "do not easily break down in nature and therefore accumulate in plants and animals."

Humans can be exposed to PCBs through "fish and dairy, by swimming in contaminated waters, and through indoor air pollution, especially in buildings using older transformers."

Even infants can be affected by PCBs through breast milk, or before birth, "causing problems such as low birth weight and decreased motor skills."

So, why are these products still being generated if PCBs were banned? According to the report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "exempted unintentionally created PCBs that occurred at levels less than 50 parts per million (or ppm, which is equal to one drop of water in a 50 liter barrel). The products sampled by the Washington State Department of Ecology fall far below this threshold and are not subject to regulation."

States like Washington are educating the public about PCBs consumer products and how to reduce their release by maintaining the environment and keeping the water clean. The EPA isn't likely to do anything soon about this in terms of regulating these chemicals found in today's consumer products.