Toxicity and Contamination by PCBs in Toulon Coast, France

by Grace Reckers

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a class of thermodynamically stable and lipophilic molecules that have been used throughout twentieth century industrialized projects. They have become a major topic of environmental concern for their persistence in sediments and contamination qualities that are hard to reverse. Their ability to imbed in sediments as toxic substances and resist rapid degradation have made it challenging to remove the molecules (each categorized as one of 209 ‘congeners’) and to eliminate their long-term toxic effects from the sediment they persist in. However, these qualities have also enabled scientists to examine historical levels of PCB usage by taking samples of varying sediment depths and recording changes in PCB concentration. Continue reading