Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
What are Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)?
PCB's are a group of man made organic chemicals that were primarily used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical devices. PCB production was stopped in the United States in 1977 because PCB's were found to be persistent in the environment and potentially harmful. Today, small amounts of PCB's can be found in almost all air, soil, sediments, surface water and animals.
What are the health effects of PCB exposure?
People exposed to large amounts of PCB's, such as utility workers handling transformers or capacitors, can develop skin conditions such as acne and rashes or possible liver damage. PCB exposure in the general population are not likely to result in skin or liver effects.
Long term effects in humans as a result of environmental or work-related exposures have not been well studied, but persons exposed to large amounts of PCB's may be at increased risk for developing certain cancers such as liver cancer. PCB's are not known to cause birth defects.
In relation to the 10 Mile-Lange-Revere Street canals in St. Clair Shores
The Macomb County Health Department has reviewed the sediment test results and does not consider the presence of PCB's in the sediment an imminent health risk to area residents.
This is based on the fact that the materials of concern were found in the bottom sediments, therefore human exposure during normal residential activities should be insignificant. To pose a significant risk to human health would require ingestion or direct skin contact with the contaminated sediment.
For Additional Information:
The Michigan Fish Advisory includes recommendations for limiting the eating of fish caught in Lake St. Clair due to PCB contamination. You should consult the Fish Advisory for specific recommendations, by species, for fish consumed from Lake St. Clair.
Federal, State and Local documents related to the investigation and clean-up of the 10 Mile-Lang-Revere Street canals can be found at http://www.ci.saint-clair-shores.mi.us/.
For further information on preventing exposure to PCB's in the 10 Mile/Lange/Revere canals:
If you have any questions, call us at 586-469-5236, Monday-Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or E-mail us now.
Environmental Protection Agency
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry