PCBs and Cancer

PCBs and Cancer

May 04

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) is an organic compound that poses toxic risks to any person who inhales or ingests it, intentionally or unintentionally. Furthermore, humans can be affected by PCBs through direct contact or consumption of contaminated animals. In order to inform and preserve the people’s health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an analysis of tests regarding PCBs potential to cause cancer.

The molecular structure of PCBs does not break down, therefore it persists in the environment regardless of when it was first emitted. Unfortunately, companies in the past, such as Monsanto, have produced liquids that expose the chemical to humans. Monsanto PCBs can lead to detrimental health problems depending on the severity of exposure.

The EPA conducted an inclusive analysis, of which the evidence suggested that PCBs cause cancer in animals. Through research and referencing an experimental study performed on laboratory rats, the EPA was able to determine what PCB mixtures are the most dangerous, and which methods of exposure pose the highest risks.

After analyzing the study on animals, the EPA continued to discuss the PCBs carcinogenicity for humans. Overall, the evidence proved “inconclusive” due to outside factors, such as an inability to correctly identify exposure levels, inadequate sample sizes, and each subject’s amount they smoke, or drink. Because these studies are limited in nature, the EPA was only able to identify a “probable” link between PCBs and cancer.

Overall, evidence suggested a definite link with PCBs ability to cause cancer in animals, and a “probable” link with their carcinogenicity for humans. Supporting these findings, the International Agency for Cancer Research and the National Institute for Occupational Safety Health cite a “probable” and “potential” link, respectively, and the National Toxicology Program finds a “reasonable” one.