Frequent Questions

How are people exposed to PCBs?

Though PCBs were banned from production in 1978, they still typically exist in low-levels in our environment - in the food we eat, the air we breathe and in dirt and dust - and they build up in our bodies over many years. This long-term build-up of PCBs is what potentially causes harm.  The levels of PCBs in our environment and in the bodies of people in this country have decreased significantly over time.

Food is a main source of exposure to PCBs. Fish (especially fish caught in polluted waters) contains small amounts of PCBs, as do meat and dairy products.  People can also be exposed to PCBs by handling products that contain them, or by breathing in contaminated air or dust in areas where a product containing PCBs was disturbed or disposed. Workers whose jobs involve repairing or dismantling PCB-containing products are at the highest risk for exposure in this way.  Indoor air and dust may also be a significant source of PCB exposure from PCB-contaminated caulk, electrical products, other building materials or products that contain PCBs.

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