Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

What are Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)?

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic compounds with stable chemical properties that were used mainly in electrical components until the 1970s. These chemical properties made them ideally suited for applications that required durability and resistance to heat and light. They were never manufactured in Canada, but were widely used in this country. PCBs are very persistent in the environment and in the living tissue of humans and animals. Scientific data suggests they are probable human carcinogens, and they are toxic to fish at low concentrations. 

Why are PCBs regulated?

As a result of concerns about the environmental and health effects of PCBs, federal regulations were enacted to protect the health of Canadians and their environment.  The PCB Regulations came into effect in 2008 and were amended since then.

What is regulated?

The PCB Regulations establish a prohibition on the release, manufacture, processing, use, import, export, offer for sale and sale of PCBs and products that contain certain concentrations of PCBs, with limited exemptions in certain specified situations. They implement deadlines on equipment already in use and in storage, and accelerate the elimination of PCBs from the Canadian environment.The PCB Regulations also set storage, labelling and reporting requirements for PCBs and products containing PCBs above certain quantities and concentrations. The oral notification of an actual release or the likelihood of a release of PCBs to the environment is required under the Environmental Emergencies Program of Environment and Climate Change Canada, while a written report of such releases is required under section 40 of the PCB Regulations.

Related regulations

The PCB Waste Export Regulations prohibit the export of wastes containing PCB in a concentration of 50 mg/kg or more to any country other than the United States.

The Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations control the import of waste containing PCBs in a concentration of 50 mg/kg or more.

Useful Links

PCB Regulations
PCB Waste Export Regulations
Export and Import of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations
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