Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of organic chlorine compounds with the formula C12H10−xClx. PCBs are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), toxic substances that affect human health and the environment. The compounds form oily liquids with high thermal conductivity. They are non-flammable and don’t conduct electricity. Since PCB mixtures are resistant to acids and alkalis, they are used as dielectric additives for transformers and capacitors, and as cooling liquids in heat exchange systems. PCB applications include plasticizers, paints, varnishes, lubricants and plastics.
First PCBs were produced in the U.S. in 1929 by Monsanto. By 1991, world production of PCBs reached approximately 1.2 million tons. About 35% of them, according to the preliminary estimates, were released into the environment.
PCBs are highly toxic substances. There is a lot of evidence showing that PCBs affect certain human organs and tend to accumulate in fatty tissues. PCBs can significantly trigger immune suppression and cause so-called "chemical AIDS". When PCBs get into the human body, they cause cancer growth, liver and kidney diseases, affect nervous system and lead to skin conditions. However, the most significant risks of PCBs exposure are associated with their mutagenic effect on the health of future generations.
Being aware of PCBs adverse effects, many states gave up on their production starting from the 70’s of the 20th century, and their production was ceased in the 90’s.
On May 22, 2001, the governments of over 100 countries, including Ukraine, adopted the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, aimed to restrict and eliminate their production, storage, use and emissions. Today, 179 world states are parties to the Stockholm Convention.
GEF-UNIDO Project “Environmentally Sound Management and Final Disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Ukraine” is aimed to support the country in strengthening legal framework for efficient PCBs management, conducting inventory of contaminated equipment, and safe disposal of persistent organic pollutants. About 5000 tons of PCBs were found in Ukraine. In line with the Stockholm Convention, the disposal of these amounts will be carried out by 2028.
Together we can achieve this goal for the future of Ukraine!