Persistent Problem: Global Challenges to Managing PCBs


Ten million tonnes of PCB-containing materials remain >30 years after production ended, with many countries lacking the capacity or regulatory structures to achieve environmentally sound management by 2028, as prescribed by the Stockholm Convention.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are the epitome of a persistent organic pollutant (POP) because of their persistence, bioaccumulative potential, and toxicity. Owing to their environmental mobility and persistence, they are distributed globally, from the high Arctic and Antarctic to the Mariana Trench in the deep Pacific Ocean. (1) PCBs pose risks to ecosystems as they potently bioaccumulate through the food web to reach levels of concern among top trophic level animals. In utero exposures are associated with neurodevelopmental toxicity, manifesting as learning, behavioral, or intellectual impairment in children. (2−6) PCB exposures are also associated with impaired immunological function, auditory deficits, and central nervous system disorders such as Parkinson-like symptoms. (7−9)

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