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Potential Hazards Due to PCBs in Building Environments Examined in New White Paper

The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) reminds workers, industry, and the public of possible threats caused by exposure to PCBs indoors.


Earlier this month, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) published a white paper that examines potential hazards of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in building environments.  According to a recent AIHA release, the document was issued in response to growing evidence that materials that contain PCBs can emanate into building environments.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “PCBs belong to a broad family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. PCBs were domestically manufactured from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979. They have a range of toxicity and vary in consistency from thin, light-colored liquids to yellow or black waxy solids. Due to their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point, and electrical insulating properties, PCBs were used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment; as plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products; in pigments, dyes, and carbonless copy paper; and many other industrial applications.”
Although PCBs are no longer commercially produced in the U.S., they are still present in many products and materials that were previously made and used.  When products containing PCBs are found indoors, building occupants can be exposed through both vapors and particulates.  This can occur gradually as materials age or more rapidly due to the disturbance of these materials during remodeling, construction, and demolition activities.
“ABIH supports the need to increase awareness and to protect workers and the public through proper monitoring to prevent exposure to PCBs,” reported Tracy Parsons, CIH, Administrative Program Manager at ABIH. “Certified Industrial Hygienists are trained and experienced in sampling, engineering controls, work environments, and risk analysis to identify PCBs and minimize potential health risks. Organizations and the public are encouraged to utilize CIHs in order to better quantify and manage their risks involving polychlorinated biphenyls in their indoor and outdoor environments.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene, the CIH program or to locate CIHs in various areas, please visit, email or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene
Since 1960, ABIH, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest, premier organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH is responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement.  Currently, more than 6700 people are certified to use the CIH designation.


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