PCBs are a group of man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, hydrogen and chlorine atoms. The number of chlorine atoms and their location in a PCB molecule determine many of its physical and chemical properties. PCBs have no known taste or smell, and range in consistency from an oil to a waxy solid.
PCBs belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until manufacturing was banned in 1979. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including:
- Electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment
- Plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products
- Pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper
- Other industrial applications
- Transformers and capacitors
- Electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, re-closers, bushings, and electromagnets
- Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems
- Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors
- Fluorescent light ballasts/li>
- Cable insulation
- Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foamand cork
- Adhesives and tapes
- Oil-based paint
- Carbonless copy paper
- Floor finish
The PCBs used in these products were chemical mixtures made up of a variety of individual chlorinated biphenyl components known as congeners.
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are Perfluorinated compounds that are very harmful to the environment and human and animal health. These toxic substances are used in materials such as textiles, carpets, leather, paper, paint, and extinguishing foam. These substances end up in the soil during production, use and in the waste phase. Because the substances are very stubborn, they are not broken down by nature. As a result, they eventually end up in the food chain. PFOS / PFOA are carcinogenic toxic substances.
HBCDD is a brominated macrocyclic hydrocarbon that is mainly used as a fire-retardant substance in plastics, textiles and insulation materials. HBCDD, just like the substances PFOS / PFOA and PCBs, is characterized as substances that are not biodegradable, which means that they enter the food chain and are ultimately consumed by humans and animals. HBCDD is a carcinogenic substance.