Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns

The Pollution in Newborns

July 14, 2005

Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns: Test Results

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PCB-9 was found in 4 of 10 umbilical cord blood samples from babies born in U.S. hospitals in 2004, at concentrations ranging from 11.4 to 16.6 pg/g (lipid weight, in whole blood). It was also found in 3 of 3 adult blood samples, at concentrations ranging from 3.6 to 18.9 pg/g (lipid weight, in whole blood).

Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative, and lipophilic ("fat-loving"). This means that PCBs build up and are stored in fatty tissues and fluids, such as breast milk, and can be passed on to fetuses and infants during pregnancy and lactation. In humans PCBs are linked to increased rates of a number of cancers, including malignant melanoma; non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and brain, liver, and lung cancer. PCB poisonings in humans have caused fetal and infant death, birth defects, and brain damage in children exposed in the womb. PCBs are known to interfere with hormonal processes. In 1976, the manufacture of PCBs was banned in the United States because of concern for human health impacts, but are still widely found in the general population of the U.S.

In humans, PCBs are associated with skin lesions, thyroid disruption, and altered menstrual cycling, as well as damage to the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular systems. PCB exposure in the womb or during lactation is also associated with decreased IQ and impaired psychomotor development, decreased immune function and skin disease (chloracne) (ATSDR 2000b). The National Toxicology Program considers several PCB mixtures to be "reasonably anticipated" human carcinogens (NTP 2002). Likewise, EPA considers PCBs to be "probable" human carcinogens (EPA 2002b).

In laboratory animals, PCBs are known to cause cancer and damage to the reproductive, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. In addition, PCBs damage the kidney and gastrointestinal tract, and cause birth defects.

About PCB-9 *
CAS RN34883-39-1
Chemical ClassPolychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
Chemical SubClassDi-PCB
Manufacturing/ Use Statusbanned for use/manufacture in the U.S.
Trade and product namesArochlors, Chlophen ®, Chlorextol ®, Clophen ®, Dykanol ®, Fenclor ®, Fenclor ® 42, Inerteen ®, Monter ®, Phenochlor ®, Pyralene ®, Pyranol ®, Santotherm ®, Therminol ®, Therminol ® FR-1
Chemical functionsdedusting agent, flame retardant, pesticide extender, plasticizer
Usesadhesives, carbonless reproducing paper, cutting oils, dedusting agents, electrical capacitors, electrical transformers, vacuum pumps, fire retardants, hydraulic fluid, ink, lubricants, pesticide extenders, plasticizer, used in heat transfer systems, wax extenders
ManufacturersMonsanto (former mfg), US Borax Inc. (former mfg)

* Information may include trade names, manufacturers, and products for other chemicals in the Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) class.

Priority Health Concerns for PCB-9
Health Concern or Target OrganWeight of Evidence
CancerKnown Effects
Birth Defects / Developmental DelaysKnown Effects
Immune SystemProbable Effects

References for Health Effects

Suspected Health Concerns for PCB-9
Cardiovascular System Or Blood, Hormone System, Stomach Or Intestines, Kidney, Brain, Nervous System, Reproductive System, Female Reproductive System, Male Reproductive System, Lungs/breathing, Hearing, Skin

References for Health Effects