Monday, January 27, 2014

Protect yourself from PCBs

What are PCBs?
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a type of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which are now being phased out due to their characteristics which are as follows:
• They resist degradation and remain in the environment for a very long time.
• They accumulate in fatty tissues.
• They are toxic to both humans and wildlife.

Where can you find PCBs?
PCBs are commonly found in old electrical transformers and capacitors. They are also found in old fluorescent ballasts, liquid-filled circuit breakers and voltage regulators, and were used in other industrial applications, such as in hydraulics, as heat transfer fluids, in lubricants, adhesives, and as plasticizers among others.

How can you get exposed to PCBs?
• Skin contact
• Ingestion
• Inhalation of heated vapors

What are some of the effects of PCB-exposure to human health?
• Chloracne
• Elevation of liver enzymes
• Adverse reproductive, developmental and endocrine effects
• Suspected to cause cancer in humans

How do you protect yourself from PCB exposure?
• Don’t handle any material suspected to contain or to be contaminated with PCBs, such as transformers, capacitors, and used-oil.
• Stay away from known PCB-contaminated sites or areas where PCBs and/or suspected PCB-equipment or PCB-contaminated materials and/or used-oil are stored.
• Report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) any illegal handling, use/reuse, and recycling of PCBs and/or PCB-contaminated materials and/or used-oil by junkshops and transformer repair, reconditioning, retro-filling, and used-oil facilities in your area .

What are the first-aid treatments for exposure to PCBs?

In Case of First Action Second Action

PCB on skin -Wash with soap and water -Seek immediate medical
for at least 15 minutes advice from physician
PCB in eyes -Flush eyes with gentle stream -Seek immediate medical
of clean water for 15 advice from physician
minutes keeping eyelids part
Swallowed or ingested PCB -Press down the back of the -Seek immediate medical
tongue to induce vomiting advice from physician
Strong PCB fumes -Provide victim with enough -Seek immediate medical
inhalation fresh air advice from physician

Source: Code of Practice on the Management of Polychlorinated biphenyls

Join the “Bantay PCBs” (PCBs Watch),
an NGO-initiated campaign to complement the government’s efforts in ensuring that all PCBs and PCB-contaminated wastes are safely managed and destroyed at the Non-Com POPs destruction facility located inside PNOC-AFC’s Industrial Park in Bataan.

For more information, please call the
EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 441-1846 or email us at

For reports on violations, please call the
DENR-EMB Central Office at (02) 928-1212 or their Regional Office in your area.