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What Are PCBs and Why Test For Them?

April 9th, 2019 by Lauren Tirrell

How would you feel if you spent years exposed to a product you thought was not harmful, only to learn later that it could be the cause of your health issues? Unfortunately, this is the case for many who have learned their exposure to PCBs has caused negative health effects including cancer and acute toxicity, or has impacted their immune system and possibly caused developmental effects.

So what are PCBs?

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) is a manmade organic chlorine compound. PCBs became well known for being used as a coolant fluid for electrical equipment and was quickly band in the 1970s. The chemical can be oily liquids or solids, clear to yellow in color, with no smell or taste. The most alarming part is that PCBs can enter the environment and have a very difficult time breaking down. The chemical can be transported at a rapid pace, landing its presence in a multitude of places. The lighter the form of PCBs, the further it can travel.

PCBs are known to have dangerous effects on health including:

  • Cancer - Research and studies that correlate cancer and PCBs in humans have found increased risks of the following cancers: melanoma, liver, Gallbladder, biliary tract, gastrointestinal tract, brain cancer and recent research that could tag breast cancer as a possible risk as well.

  • Immune System - PCBs bound to receptors that control immune system function. PCB threatens other cells which causes a riff in immune function.

  • Acute Toxic Effects - Individuals who are exposed to extreme levels have experienced issues through absorption of the skin and air. They also have problems with irritation of the nose, lunges, and eye problems.

  • Developmental Effects -  Females who are exposed to levels of PCBs during pregnancy have been exposed to birth defects including, neurological and motor control problems.

How can PCB testing be conducted?

Certified labs can perform various types of PCBs sampling, which include soil characterization, site investigations, wastewater permits, site remediation, and air monitoring. However, choosing an environmental lab with a wide array of testing capabilities can elevate the issue before the problem becomes widespread.

Con-Test Analytical Laboratory has a combined 64-years of experience with PCB. Our lab also has one of the largest PCB testing sites on the east coast of the United States. With the advanced state of the art testing methods, Con-test is the leader in detecting PCB homologs and congeners in a vast list of material.

Con-Test PCB testing capabilities include:

  • Oil and Wipes

  • Water and Soil by EPA 8082 and 608 Methods

  • Soxhlet Extraction

  • Air by TO-10A and TO-4A Methods

  • Homolog and Congener Identification

  • NIOSH 5503

  • AIHA accredited

  • PCBs in schools

  • TCLP and SPLP Extraction Analysis

  • Caulking, Light Ballasts, Glue, Tile, and More

PCB testing is important for having a save, and toxic free environment.  Click here to learn more about our PCB testing services.

Con-Test Analytical Laboratory is one of the leading environmental laboratories in the country. Located in the Greater Boston area, Con-Test services over 30 states nationally. Known as one of the top-quality environmental laboratories, Con-Test is a partner with leading international firms, the EPA, state governments, and more. Our diverse areas of expertise include: air toxins, sediment, tissue, solids, aqueous, product testing and more. Contact us to learn more about our analytical testing services.


Posted in the category PCBs.

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