Polychlorinated biphenyls
EPA Designation Regulated
EPA Classification Organic Chemicals
EPA Levels 1,2 zero MCLG (mg/L)
0.0005 MCLG (mg/L)
Alternative Names PCBs
Sources Runoff from landfills; discharge of waste chemicals
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of highly toxic chlorinated industrial chemicals used as dielectrics, coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment; PCBs contaminate water by leaching from landfills or other waste deposits.

Overview

Polychlorinated biphenyls are a group of organic chemicals which can be odorless or mildly aromatic solids or oily liquids.

Uses

Polychlorinated biphenyls were formerly used in the United States as hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, adhesives, fire retardants, way extenders, de-dusting agents, pesticide extenders, inks, lubricants, cutting oils, in heat transfer systems, carbonless reproducing paper.

Health Effects

Some people who drink water containing polychlorinated biphenyls well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience changes in their skin, problems with their thymus gland, immune deficiencies, or reproductive or nervous system difficulties, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

EPA Data Source: Polychlorinated biphenyls

EPA Definitions:

1Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) - The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MCLGs allow for a margin of safety and are non-enforceable public health goals.

Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) - The highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set as close to MCLGs as feasible using the best available treatment technology and taking cost into consideration. MCLs are enforceable standards.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal (MRDLG) - The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.

(TT) Treatment Technique - A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.

Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level (MRDL) - The highest level of a disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.

2 Units are in milligrams per liter (mg/L) unless otherwise noted. Milligrams per liter are equivalent to parts per million.