One Public Health Response to PCBs


Many people know that consuming too much seafood with high levels of mercury can be poisonous. However, fewer people know about the effects of consuming seafood with high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). PCBs are man-made industrial compounds that have a range of toxicity known to cause a variety of types of cancer. Though the manufacturing of PCBs was domestically banned in 1979, public health departments in the United States have continued to face the harmful effects of their toxicity.

In 1996, the Alabama Department of Public Health released a report revising fish consumption advisories regarding PCBs. The report included revisions that lifted fish consumption advisories for one river which previously contained unsafe levels of the toxin DDT found in the fish, but added new fish consumption advisories for a river, lake, and creek where the fish sampled contained high PCB levels. The document warns: “Advisories are issued because toxic chemicals in lakes or rivers accumulate in fish tissue. The people who eat these fish may face health risks.”

Check out these documents to learn more about how one Department of Public Health responded to PCBs found in fish!