Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can be found in a number of products including some older caulking compounds, paints, coolants, lubricants, and electrical equipment. Although banned throughout North America in 1977, PCBs are bioaccumulative and do not easily break down. They persist in the environment for long periods of time and are transferred up the food chain to other living organisms. While the low levels of exposure commonly encountered by Canadians are not likely to cause health problems, exposure at higher levels or for longer periods may have a number of negative health impacts. Aboriginal peoples and the families of those who hunt and fish for food may be at greater risk.
Health Canada conducts monitoring, research and evaluation to identify sources and analyze the health effects of PCBs. The Department also works with other Federal Departments, Provincial and Territorial governments, and with industry to develop guidelines and regulations to reduce and ultimately eliminate the risk of human exposure to PCBs.
In this section, you will find information on Health Canada research, evaluation and regulatory activities relating to PCBs.