A new Rutgers University study shows many yellow-colored products still contain PCB chemicals — polychlorinated biphenyls — which were banned in the late 1970s.
The study author, Dr. Lisa Rodenburg, an associate professor of environmental chemistry, found that many yellow pigments used for paint or to print on clothing and paper contain PCB 11, a form of the chemicals, Yahoo Shine reported
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“People thought that PCB issues were solved and they could forget about it," Rodenburg told Yahoo Shine. "But now we are finding new sources in the environment."
The work has undergone peer review, and she hopes the team's findings will be published later this year.
PCBs have been extensively studied, and while PCB 11 was considered safe because the body metabolizes and excretes the chemical more quickly than other PCBs, Rodenburg said little is actually known about PCB 11 and its toxicity levels in humans.
In her as-yet unpublished study, Rodenburg told Scientific American that PCB 11 was found in almost all paper
product samples tied to yellow dyes and inks that were sold in 26 countries, and to clothing sold in the U.S.
“It’s out there in levels that are worrisome,” Rodenburg told SA. It is an unintentional byproduct of manufacturing pigment.
An Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson told SA that although PCBs are banned, federal regulations “recognize that some products (e.g., pigments and dyes) contain inadvertently generated PCBs.” The risk of PCB 11 is being reviewed by the EPA.
“Everyone has ignored the lower chlorinated congeners, primarily because they are not persistent and are relatively easily metabolized in the human body,” Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-SUNY, told SA.
University of Iowa researchers last year found PCB 11 could interfere with cell signaling.
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