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PCBs and Human Health

Conference paper
Part of the Environmental Toxin Series book series (TOXIN SERIES, volume 1)

Abstract

Humans have been exposed to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) mixtures via 3 major pathways. Several thousand workers engaged in the manufacture and application of PCBs have been exposed to relatively high levels of these compounds and serum levels up to 3000 ppb have been measured in occupationally-exposed individuals. The accidental leakage of a PCB-containing industrial fluid into rice oil resulted in the exposure of several thousand individuals in two separate incidents in Japan (1968, Yusho poisoning) and Taiwan (1979, Yu Cheng poisoning). The Yusho/Yu Cheng poisoning victims constitute a second high PCB exposure group. Population surveys have also been shown that most humans are exposed to relatively small concentrations of PCBs through the food chain and constitute the low level exposure group. Recent studies have shown that the relative severity of the toxic symptoms observed in Yusho and Yu Cheng incidents compared to the moderate effects observed in occupationally-exposed workers is primarily due to the high levels of polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) identified in the PCB fluid which contaminated the rice oil in the Yusho and Yu Cheng victims. Occupational exposure to PCBs can result in dermal toxicity, hepatic dysfunction and decrease in pulmonary function; however, these effects appear to be reversible after exposure to PCBs is terminated. Based on the severity and duration of the toxic symptoms observed in workers exposed to high levels of PCBs, it is unlikely that environmental exposure to these chemicals leads to any adverse human effects.

Keywords

Occupational Exposure Toxic Symptom Acneiform Eruption Dermal Toxicity Major Etiologic Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dep. of Veterinary Physiology and PharmacologyTexas A&M University, College of Veterinary MedicineCollege StationUSA

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