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Indoor Air Quality Laboratory capable of researching PCBs in various products

11 November 2020

INEGI's Indoor Air Quality Laboratory can now perform analyses to determine the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polluting substances that can appear in products such as paints, polymers, sealants or other products with color pigments.

Polychlorinated biphenyls are not a specific compound, but a group of compounds with more than two hundred variations. In the industry, they were used as heat exchange fluids, in electrical transformers and condensers, and as additives in paints and plastics. These compounds are no longer produced industrially, but can be formed involuntarily during the production of pigments and other chemicals. That is why, as researcher Gabriela Ventura explains, "active surveillance is extremely important”.

Polychlorinated biphenyls are "organic pollutants considered to be carcinogenic and are known to be endocrine, neurotoxic and reprotoxic disrupters, which can cause immune suppression, inflammatory responses and dermatological problems”, explains Gabriela Ventura. Exposure can occur through inhalation, consumption of contaminated food or skin contact.

"These substances are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and, once formed, they propagate through wind, rain and water, or through animal vectors, and can travel considerable distances", adds the expert.

This propagation capacity is so exceptional, that these pollutants have already been detected in remote regions where they have never been used, such as the oceanic islands and Antarctica. In addition to their persistence in the environment, they constitute a relevant risk due to their toxicity to animals and people, and their propensity to accumulate in food chains.

This danger led to the restriction of the production and transport of polychlorinated biphenyls under the United Nations Environment Program, through the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants.

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