Can Exposure to PCBs Lead to Cancer?

An appeals court panel in 2013 ruled it so that a jury may be able to decide as to whether this is so, after official claims were filed linking the substance of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as the cause of several cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, after high levels of the chemical was found in their blood.

Here are the facts:

The Monsanto Company was responsible for 99% of the production of PCBs since 1930s, though there are several claims that they had been in operation since the early 1900s. Since that time, PCB products (which consist for a wide variety of things like electrical equipment, food packaging, and paint, among other things) have been scattered all over the world – but more prominently affect the town that was the main place of operations: Anniston, Alabama.

An internal memo from the company revealed that the company was aware of the toxicity of their PCBs in the 1960s – whereas Congress only banned the manufacturing of the substance in 1979.

Toxic Monsanto PCBs have had drastically devastating impact on the environment, as well as the people who inhabit it. Several studies from the US Environmental Protection Agency have come to conclude that the chemical pollutants that are PCBs are “probably human carcinogens”.

Rhesus monkeys – a species of animal that match human DNA to 93%, making them good candidates for study on effects to humans as well – were shown to have had significant change to their thymus gland upon exposure. The thymus gland is directly connected to the immune system, where lymphocytes are found and where non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is likely to start – making the claims against Monsanto as likely.

Other health effects that PCBs have been proven to cause are defects with reproduction as well as neurological problems.

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