Right-to-Know

Banned PCBs still haunt Great Lakes

A warning sign at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Image: USGS.gov

A warning sign at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Image: USGS.gov

CHICAGO, IL — “PCB emissions may still threaten residents of Chicago and other Great Lakes communities, according to a recently published study that calls for legislation to control the largest sources of the longtime pollutant.

Classified as a ‘persistent environmental pollutant’ by the EPA, PCBs cause cancer in people and can damage their immune, nervous and endocrine systems.

“It’s not that there’s not enough being done about it,” said Scott Spak, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Iowa. ‘It’s about the focus of where the most funds have gone.’

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, have been banned in the United States since 1979 when Congress declared these chemical compounds to be environmentally toxic. Production of items with PCBs was stopped.”

— Ethan Merrill, Great Lakes Echo

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