[Toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)--indoor air pollution by PCB-containing durable elastic sealants]

Gesundheitswesen. 1993 Aug-Sep;55(8-9):431-9.
[Article in German]


The widespread use of the persistent and lipophilic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) e.g. in electrical engineering, hydraulics and chemistry of the polymers, caused their ubiquitous distribution and accumulation in food chains. Chronic toxicity in humans is known from several incidents of PCB contaminated food. Dose-response experiences, however, remain uncertain due to the technical grade of PCB as a complex mixture of about 150 congeners and many impurities, like polychlorinated dibenzodurans. Some information on the toxicity of a few PCB congeners is available from animal experiments. Large differences in enzyme-inductive efficacy between the PCB congeners rendered the use of toxicity equivalent factors (related to 2,3,7,8-TCDD, "Seveso-Dioxin") necessary. For risk assessment, the use of "sum of PCB", calculated from questionable determinations of 6 minor toxic congeners, is insufficient. Serious problems arise from evaporation of PCB e.g. in technical rooms of telephone companies (in Germany: Telekom) and generally, from sealing materials in buildings. The German Federal Health Administration, BGA, recommends 300 ng total PCB/m3 indoor air as "precautionary value". Since neither the extreme differences in toxicity of the congeners nor bioaccumulation are taken into account, this recommendation of BGA can not be justified any longer.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Construction Materials
  • Humans
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / classification
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls