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EWG's Tap Water Database — 2019 UPDATE

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Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Philadelphia Water Department

PCBs are synthetic chemicals banned in the U.S. since the 1970s because of their toxicity. PCBs contaminate water by leaching from landfills and hazardous waste clean-up sites. PCBs increase the risk of cancer. Read More.

Up until the late 1970s, PCBs were used widely as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment. Currently, PCBs are widely detected in the general population. They 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 breast-feeding. In human epidemiological studies, PCBs have been associated with an elevated risk of breast and prostate cancers. Infants and children with higher PCB exposures during development score lower on measures of neurological function, ranging from decreased IQ scores to reduced hearing sensitivity. PCBs also affect hormones and damage the immune system.

 

22

Samples

0

Samples exceeding legal limit (MCL)

0

Samples exceeding
health guidelines

Testing results - average by year

 
YearAverage resultSamples takenDetectionsRange of results
2012ND30ND
2013N/A00N/A
2014ND60ND
2015ND30ND
2016ND30ND
2017ND70ND

ppb = parts per billion

State and national drinking water standards and health guidelines

EWG Health Guideline 0.09 ppb

The EWG Health Guideline of 0.09 ppb for PCBs was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

EPA Maximum Contaminant
Level (MCL) 0.5 ppb

The legal limit for PCBs, established in 1991, was based on analytical detection limits at the time that the standard was set. This limit may not fully protect against the risk of cancer due to PCB exposure.

ppb = parts per billion

All test results

Date Lab ID Result
2012-04-026604134ND
2012-04-026604132ND
2012-04-026604133ND
2014-04-077422122ND
2014-04-077422120ND
2014-04-077422118ND
2014-08-197572176ND
2014-08-197572174ND
2014-08-197572178ND
2015-06-1012887845ND
2015-06-1012887851ND
2015-06-1012887857ND
2016-06-0314411781ND
2016-06-0314411756ND
2016-06-0314411731ND
2017-05-1616101010ND
2017-05-1616100985ND
2017-05-1616100960ND
2017-07-2416420648ND
2017-07-2416420623ND
2017-07-2416573318ND
2017-07-2416420598ND