PCBs: What You Need to Know

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were widely used in industrial applications from the 1930s to the 1970s due to their heat resistance and insulating properties. However, their environmental and health risks led to the Environmental Protection Agency banning the manufacture of PCBs in 1979. Although no longer commercially produced in the United States, PCBs may be present in products and materials produced before the 1979 PCB ban. Products that may contain PCBs include:

Transformers and capacitors; Electrical equipment including voltage regulators, switches, re-closers, bushings, and electromagnets; Oil used in motors and hydraulic systems; Old electrical devices or appliances containing PCB capacitors; Fluorescent light ballasts; Cable insulation; Thermal insulation material including fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork; Adhesives and tapes; Oil-based paint; Caulking; Plastics; Carbonless copy paper; Floor finish;

Here's why PCBs are considered dangerous:

  • Chemical Structure: PCBs comprise chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen atoms arranged in biphenyl structures, with the number and placement of chlorine atoms determining the specific type.
  • Persistence: PCBs resist breakdown, leading to their long-lasting presence in the environment and accumulation in soil, water, and living organisms.
  • Toxicity: PCBs are toxic to humans and wildlife, with adverse health effects including cancer-causing properties, damage to the immune and nervous systems, reproductive issues, and interference with hormone function.
  • Exposure Routes: Human exposure to PCBs can occur through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact with contaminated materials, and there are significant concerns about occupational exposure.
  • Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification: PCBs can build up in the tissues of living organisms over time and increase in concentration along the food chain, leading to higher levels in top predators.
  • Regulatory Action: Strict regulations and international agreements aim to reduce the production, use, and environmental release of PCBs, with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants addressing their management and elimination.

The Poe Hall Case So Far

The discovery of PCBs in building materials led Chancellor Randy Woodson and Vice Chancellor Warwick Arden to initiate comprehensive testing and close Poe Hall for further evaluation. PCBs are classified as "probable human carcinogens" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with potential adverse effects on neurological, reproductive, immune, and endocrine systems.

North Carolina State University has been actively investigating the situation since August 2023, following concerns raised by an employee regarding PCBs, lead, and asbestos in the building. The university's response includes collaborating with federal agencies like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to evaluate health hazards and collect relevant data.

The university has acknowledged the gravity of the situation, recognizing the stress and urgency for answers among the affected community. Updates on the investigation are regularly provided through a dedicated website to ensure transparency and keep stakeholders informed.

Past testing in 2018 also revealed PCB contamination in Poe Hall, prompting questions about the adequacy of previous measures taken. The recent findings and the history of PCB presence in the building have led to concerns about potential negligence in addressing health risks.

The types of PCBs detected, such as Aroclor 1262 and Aroclor 1254, highlight the severity of the contamination and its potential health implications. Exposure to PCBs is associated with various health risks, including cancers, weakened immune systems, reproductive issues, and neurological effects.

Victims of toxic chemical exposure incidents like this may have legal recourse under premises liability, which holds property owners accountable for maintaining safe conditions. Negligence in managing hazardous substances or failing to address reported concerns can contribute to such cases, emphasizing the importance of thorough investigations and accountability in ensuring workplace safety.

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The Alvarez Law Firm Investigates PCB Contamination at NC State's Poe Hall

At The Alvarez Law Firm, we understand the seriousness of the PCB contamination situation at North Carolina State University's Poe Hall. As concerns about potential health risks related to PCBs continue to arise, our team is actively investigating to ensure accountability and seek justice for those affected.

Here's what our investigation involves:

  • We're carefully examining all data related to PCB contamination in Poe Hall, including past test results, the types and levels of PCBs found, and any historical maintenance and safety records.
  • We're checking if the university followed environmental regulations and safety standards regarding PCBs. This includes reviewing how the university responded to previous instances of PCB detection and its actions after the recent reports of contamination.
  • We're committed to protecting the rights of anyone affected by PCB exposure at Poe Hall, including alums, faculty, staff, and others. We aim to ensure that victims get the help and compensation they deserve.
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We’re Here to Help.

At Alvarez Law, we believe in being open, keeping you in the loop, and fighting hard for you as we investigate the PCB contamination at North Carolina State University's Poe Hall. We're dedicated to updating you, offering expert legal advice, and working towards the best possible results. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of Poe Hall PCB exposure, please get in touch with us today to set up a meeting and find out how we can support you.

Let’s talk about your case.

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