PCBs are a group of over 200 chlorine-containing organic compounds that were used between 1929 and 1977. They're very stable (meaning they don't break down quickly into non-toxic forms), they bioaccumulate, and they're non-flammable. They were very popular in the past, being used as
- hydraulic fluids,
- and ingredients in fire retardants, paints, adhesives, and pesticides.
In 1977, the U.S. Congress banned production of these chemicals after research demonstrated that they were carcinogenic (caused cancer) and could cause neurological damage to babies and children. Although these chemicals are no longer produced in the U.S., they remain in our environment.
Birds of prey, such as ospreys and eagles, are often the species that we think of when we're thinking about chemical contamination of the environment by PCBs, but humans can also be affected. The Washington Post recently reported on activists pushing for PCB testing in schools.
Any greenmomsters live in school districts that have tested for PCBs?