PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols)
Polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs) in Stormwater FAQs
PCBs are released into the environment by the improper handling and disposal of wastes containing PCBs. Because PCBs are highly insoluble in water, they are typically transferred into aquatic and terrestrial environments through surface water flows attached solid particulate matter.[ix] Contaminated soils and debris can then be ingested by wildlife, causing bioaccumulation to be a transporting mechanism within the food-chain. Due to its extreme toxicity to humans, it has been banned in the U.S. for production since 1979. Prior to it being banned, it was primarily used in electrical, heat transfer, and hydraulic equipment and had varying appearances from thin, light-colored liquids to black waxy solids.[viii]
PCBs should be removed from stormwater discharge because they are highly carcinogenic. The most carcinogenic components of PCB mixtures tend to bioaccumulate in fish and other animals and bind to sediments.[vi] Humans ingest PCBs through the consumption of contaminated fish and other animals. In humans, PCBs can cause skin changes, thymus gland problems, immune deficiencies, reproductive and nervous system difficulties and increase the risk of cancer.[iv] PCBs have been shown to also cause cancer in animals, in addition to serious effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, endocrine system, and other health effects.[v]
Enhanced, passive media filtration and advanced polishing can be used to effectively remove PCBs from stormwater prior to discharge. If further reduction is necessary to remove PCBs, advanced polishing technologies can be used. Both types of BMPs combined in a treatment train will remove PCBs from stormwater prior to discharge to help facilities meet benchmarks or NALs. The Aquip passive media filter and the Purus polisher combined offer an advanced level of PCB removal from stormwater. Learn more about our stormwater media filtration and polishing technologies.