Bad indoor air quality, nasty volatile organic chemicals, and black mold are well known to cause serious health risks to those who work or live near these sources of trouble.
Whether they are in your home, business or schools can be tough to get rid of if you haven’t a clue on what they are and how to avoid them. While these nasty home health scares are relevant no matter where you live or work, there is another health risk that all homeowners should be aware of-PCBs.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are toxic chemicals that are in everything from paint to light fixtures. And if they reside in your home, you and your family could be at serious risk. Use this guide to PCB’s and find out for yourself if this home health hazard is in your home.
So what are PCB’s?
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of nasty human-made chemicals that can be found throughout your home, business and even in schools.
Primarily used in insulation, coolants, and other electrical equipment, these substances are well known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. PCB’s can also be found in paints, plastics, rubber, sealants, caulks, glues, pesticides, and even old fluorescent light bulbs.
But before you freak out and start throwing out all these products out the window, PCB’s aren’t in use anymore. Products made in the USA 1977 may contain PCB’s. Production of these nasty chemicals stopped in 1977, and the federal government banned PCB production in 1979.
Why Are PCB’s bad for Me?
The problem with these known carcinogens is that they were once everywhere. Old paint chips, caulking flakes, oil from light fixtures and old rubber gaskets can all pose a risk to you and your family’s health.
It may take decades for these materials to evaporate, work their way into the soil and even enter the water supply. Short-term exposure to these toxins can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs. Long-term exposure is even worse.
Troubles with the liver, immune system, endocrine system, reproductive system, and thyroid hormone levels could affect healthy growth and development in children. To make matters worse, PCB’s can cause an increased risk of cancer. And because these chemicals remain active for years, they can be nearly anywhere.
What do I do?
If building materials in your home were installed after 1977; you don’t need to worry. However, older homes and building material created before 1977 can harbor these dangerous toxins for years.
Don’t bother cleaning this mess yourself; it’s too risky. Use this guide from the EPA to help you find a commercial PCB removal company in your area to test for this substance and take the necessary steps to decontamination.