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PRIO – A tool for Risk Reduction of Chemicals

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is a collective name for a number of similar substances containing varying amounts of chlorine. A biphenyl consists of two aromatic rings.

All new use of PCBs was prohibited in Sweden in 1978, and PCBs have been successively phased out since (SFS 1985:837). Here you can search in the Restricted Substances Database for PCB. PCBs are, however, still a global environmental problem. PCBs were principally used for insulation and as a lubricant oil in capacitors and in transformers, sealants, paints, no-copy-required (NCR) paper etc.

PCB is stable and bioaccumulates in the environment. PCB is very toxic to aquatic organisms and disrupts the reproductive capacity of fish and aquatic mammals, e.g. seals. Here you can search in the classification list for PCB. PCBs have long been included in various programmes for environmental monitoring, and levels started to fall in the Baltic Sea from the 1970s on. Populations of various species in general started to recover during the 1980s and 1990s, see Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental pollutants.

Further information
Klor och klorföreningar – redovisning av ett regeringsuppdrag (Chlorine and chlorine compounds – report on a government commission). Report 15/94, Swedish Chemicals Inspectorate, 1994.