Biggs & Narciso

PCBs Information Sheet

Health Hazards

Once released into the environment, PCBs do not breakdown and are therefore have found their way into many ecosystems finally accumulating in plants, animals and human beings. The import, manufacture, and sale of PCBs were made illegal in Canada in 1977. The goal of the legislation has been to eliminate PCBs entirely but the widespread use and the difficulty to destroy them had created an ongoing problem in meeting this goal. Total elimination of PCBs from Canada may not be reached for another generation.

Among the health affects of PCB's are skin ailments called chloracne, reproductive disorders, liver disease and neurological problems in children. Some studies indicate that PCBs are associated with certain kinds of cancer in humans, such as cancer of the liver and biliary tract.


The most effective means of destroying PCBs is through incineration. Although PCBs do not themselves ignite, they can be combusted under extreme heat and carefully controlled conditions. Current regulations require that PCBs are burnt at a temperature of 1200

Sources & Further Information

Environment Canada (PCB fact sheets)