PCB's have long been recognised as posing a threat to human health and the environment due to their toxicity, persistence and tendency to build up in the bodies of animals, particularly at the top of the food chain.
As a result of releases to the environment over the past several decades due to human activities, PCBs are now widely distributed over large regions (including places where PCBs have never been used, for example in marine organisms in the Antarctic).
PCBs have been shown to cause cancer, affect the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system and other health effects in animals. Studies in humans support evidence for potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of PCBs.
From the early 1970, the use of PCBs has gradually been restricted in the UK and internationally, with a ban on closed uses of PCBs in new equipment in the UK in 1981.
Examples of existing, closed uses of PCBs include, but are not limited to, heat exchange fluids such as coolants and insulating fluids (transformer oil) for transformers and capacitors. We understand that over 99% of equipment containing PCBs is found in the energy distribution network.