Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

PCBs and Their Impact on Illinois

An Updated Look at PCBsThe report stemming from this scientific workshop has been published by the Prairie Research Institute.

A one-day workshop "PCBs and Their Impact in Illinois" was held at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) campus on Wednesday, Sept. 17. This workshop brought together expert perspectives representing industry, law, public health, and environmental science, in a public forum on best practices and trends in the management of PCBs. ISTC organized this event as part of its outreach work focused on important environmental/societal/economic issues in the state.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are a class of synthetic chemicals widely used in industry as a coolant and electrical insulator. Their use and production was banned during the 1970s as their properties as persistent organic pollutants became clear. They persist in soil, can enter the food chain and have been implicated in cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurotoxicity. (PCB Factsheet)

Despite these regulations, the need to manage and monitor PCB levels in waste, soil, water, and other media is still vital. The management of PCBs is of major concern to the state of Illinois. Between 1930-77, these chemicals were widely used in Illinois and throughout the U.S. as coolants and insulating fluids as well as in paints, cements, PVC coatings, flame retardants, lubricants, sealants, adhesives and many other products.

To help address this concern, the workshop covered four specific topics: (1) Background on PCBs and their impact on Illinois; (2) Managing PCBs with the use of landfills; (3) Other means of managing PCBs; and (4) PCB clean-up and redevelopment success stories.

In addition to the workshop, the Prairie Research Institute produced a document on PCBs titled, “An Updated Look at PCBs,” which contains a summary and recommendations about PCB disposal, a review of how PCBs are a persistent pollutant, and a literature review of remediation technologies of PCBs and manufactured-gas-plant wastes.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign logo The workshop was sponsored by the University of Illinois as a service to the citizens of Illinois.

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