U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)


Recent findings indicate that susceptible populations (e.g., certain ethnic groups, sport anglers, the elderly, pregnant women, children, fetuses, and nursing infants) continue to be exposed to PCBs via fish and wildlife consumption. Human health studies indicate that 1) reproductive function may be disrupted by exposure to PCBs; 2) neurobehavioral and developmental deficits occur in newborns and continue through school-aged children who had in utero exposure to PCBs; 3) other systemic effects (e.g., effects on the thyroid and immune systems and self-reported liver disease and diabetes) are associated with elevated serum levels of PCBs; and 4) increased cancer risks, e.g., non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, are associated with PCB exposures.

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Human Health | Ecological Impacts

Human Health

Adobe PDF LogoExamination of Risk-Based Screening Values and Approaches of Selected States
Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC). RISK-1, 115 pp, 2005.

Screening values for a specific chemical may vary among states and even among different regions of EPA. The ITRC Risk Team examined and documented the screening values for five specific contaminants—arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls, and trichloroethene—that are often identified as drivers for management actions at contaminated sites.

PCBs: Recent Advances in Environmental Toxicology and Health Effects
Larry W. Robertson and Larry G. Hansen, eds.
The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. ISBN 0-8131-2226-0, 461 pp, 2001.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Terphenyls, Second Ed.
S. Dobson and G.J. van Esch.
World Health Organization, International Programme on Chemical Safety, Environmental Health Criteria 140. ISBN: 92-4-157140-3, 1993.

Adobe PDF LogoPolychlorinated Biphenyls: Human Health Aspects
O. Faroon, L. Keith, C. Smith-Simon, and C. De Rosa.
World Health Organization Geneva, Concise International Chemical Assessment Document 55.
ISBN: 92-4-153055-3, 64 pp, 2003

Public Health Implications of Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
B. Johnson, H. Hicks, W. Cibulas, O. Faroon, A. Ashizawa, C. De Rosa, V. Cogliano, M. Clark.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 1999.

Adobe PDF LogoA Review of Human Carcinogens: 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin, 2,3,4,7,8-Pentachlorodibenzofuran, and 3,3?,4,4?,5-Pentachlorobiphenyl
IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans.
World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs, Vol 100F, p 339-378, 2012

Adobe PDF LogoThird National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA. NCEH Publication 05-0570, 475 pp, 2005.

This report series provides an ongoing assessment of the U.S. population's exposure to environmental chemicals by measuring the chemicals or their metabolites in human specimens, such as blood or urine. The report coverage includes metals (e.g., mercury), PCBs, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pthalates, and numerous pesticides. The report is designed to allow users to determine public health information in the following areas: (1) which chemicals get into Americans and at what concentrations, (2) prevalence of people with chemical levels above those of chemicals with a known toxicity level, (3) reference ranges that can be used by physicians and scientists to determine whether a person or group has an unusually high exposure, (4) effectiveness of public health efforts to reduce exposure of Americans to specific chemicals, (5) exposure levels among minorities, children, women of childbearing age, or other potentially vulnerable groups, (6) trends in levels of exposure of the population, and (7) priorities for research on human health effects.

Adobe PDF LogoToxicological Profile for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), 2000.
2011 Addendum Adobe PDF Logo

U.S. EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

Aroclor 1016 (CASRN 12674-11-2)
Aroclor 1248 (CASRN 12672-29-6)
Aroclor 1254 (CASRN 11097-69-1)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (CASRN 1336-36-3)

Ecological Impacts

Adobe PDF LogoBiphenyl
Irwin, R. et al.
Environmental Contaminants Encyclopedia, National Park Service, 1997

Adobe PDF LogoChapter 41: Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases: General Field Procedures and Diseases of Birds.
U.S. Geological Survey, Information and Technology Report 1999-001, p 303-308, 1999

Adobe PDF LogoThe FishRand Spatially Explicit Bioaccumulation Model
von Stackelberg, K., M.A. Williams, and M.S. Johnson.
ESTCP Project ER-200917, 241 pp, 2014

Predictive models are required to evaluate the impact of potential contaminated sediment management alternatives. This project demonstrated at two Army sites the application of a probabilistic, spatially explicit, and dynamic bioaccumulation model, referred to as FishRand. Those results were compared to the currently accepted practice of a deterministic application and a probabilistic but not spatially explicit application. An application was developed for total PCBs, two individual PCB congeners, and three homologue groups at one site, and for DDT, DDE, and DDD at the other site. Since completion of this effort, the model has been updated to provide direct linkage to GIS files. Additional information: FishRand Model; Project Resources.

Adobe PDF LogoMeasurement and Modeling of Ecosystem Risk and Recovery for In Situ Treatment of Contaminated Sediments: Phase I
Luthy, R.G., S.N. Luoma, and J.K. Thompson.
SERDP Project ER-1552, 184 pp, 2011

Strategies to assess ecological recovery after in situ sediment treatment by activated carbon (AC) amendment were evaluated at Hunters Point, San Francisco Bay, CA. Polyethylene sampling devices and a PCB immunoassay technique were compared and the polyethylene results correlated with those obtained using conventional methods. Further work with thin polyoxymethylene sampling devices demonstrated the utility of this method to measure the vertical pore-water profile in the sediment and how this compares to the AC distribution in sediment cores. Field-related influences on bioaccumulation and the effectiveness of AC amendment were tested with in situ bioassays and passive sampler deployment. A biodynamic model was used to simulate PCB exposure scenarios present at Hunters Point and the reference sites.

PCBRes (PCB Residue Effects)
U.S. EPA, Mid-Continent Ecology Division. June 2009

The PCBRes Database has been developed to assist scientists and risk assessors in correlating PCB and dioxin-like compound residues with toxic effects. The purpose is to develop PCB critical residue values for fish, mammals, and birds, especially for aquatic and aquatic-dependent species. A self-extracting zip file (15.3 MB) contains assorted documentation and plotting templates. The database requires 50 MB space on a PC and Microsoft Access 2003 or higher. The PCBRes Database has been developed to assist scientists and risk assessors in correlating PCB and dioxin-like compound residues with toxic effects. The purpose is to develop PCB critical residue values for fish, mammals, and birds, especially for aquatic and aquatic-dependent species. A self-extracting zip file (15.3 MB) contains assorted documentation and plotting templates. The database requires 50 MB space on a PC and Microsoft Access 2003 or higher. Assistance is available via the ECOTOX helpline at or 218-529-5225.

Adobe PDF LogoPlanar PCB Hazards to Fish, Wildlife, and Invertebrates: a Synoptic Review
R. Eisler and A. Belisle, U.S. Geological Survey.
Contaminant Hazard Reviews, Biological Report 31, 75 pp, 1996.
Contact: Ronald Eisler,

Adobe PDF LogoPolychlorinated Biphenyl Hazards to Fish, Wildlife, And Invertebrates: a Synoptic Review
Ronald Eisler, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Laurel, MD. Contaminant Hazard Reviews, Biological Report 7, 1986.
Contact: Ronald Eisler,

Polychlorinated Biphenyls: Sources, Fate, Effects on Birds and Mammals, and Mechanisms of Action
Bohannon, M.E.B. and M.A. Ottinger. Elsevier, Oxford. The Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene 5:207-213(2018) [Abstract]

PCBs have been shown to have multiple deleterious effects in wildlife. This article focuses on how PCBs have entered the environment, the organic and inorganic matrices they move into, the biological effects they have on wildlife and mammalian health, and the main mechanisms of action by which PCBs exert those effects. Two case studies of PCB contamination are considered in this article along with discussion of the effects wrought by PCBs at a cellular and molecular level.

Wildlife Health Damages Due to PCBs
Fox River Watch: a project of Clean Water Action Council, Green Bay, WI.

This web site contains reports prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documenting PCB health damages to fish, wildlife, and resources of Green Bay, WI, and the Fox River.