Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
CAS ID #: 1336-36-3, 11097-69-1
Affected Organ Systems: Dermal (Skin), Developmental (effects during periods when organs are developing) , Endocrine (Glands and Hormones), Hepatic (Liver), Immunological (Immune System), Neurological (Nervous System)
Cancer Effects: Reasonably Anticipated to be Human Carcinogens
Chemical Classification: Dioxins, Furans, PCBs (contain phenyl rings of carbon atoms), Pesticides (chemicals used for killing pests, such as rodents, insects, or plants)
Summary: 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.
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- Page last reviewed: March 3, 2011
- Page last updated: March 3, 2011
- Content source: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry