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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Apr 15;44(8):2777-83. doi: 10.1021/es9012036.

Estimation of PCB stocks, emissions, and urban fate: will our policies reduce concentrations and exposure?

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Department of Geography and Program in Planning, University of Toronto, Canada.


PCBs, used to manage risks from the flammability of dielectric fluids and to increase the durability of elastic sealants, had declining environmental concentrations after legislation banning new production was passed during the 1970s and 1980s in Europe and North America. To answer why PCB temporal trends are now nearly stable and if current policies will further reduce concentrations and our exposure, we estimated PCB stocks in Toronto, Canada (population of approximately 2.5 million) of 437 (282-796) tonnes, of which 97 and 3% are in closed sources and building sealants, respectively. The greatest geographic density of PCBs is downtown, specifically in commercial, electricity-intensive skyscrapers. An unknown stock is within now-buried landfills and other waste-handling facilities as well as diffuse sources such as electrical wiring and paints. Using the Multimedia Urban Model, we estimated city-wide emissions of approximately 0.14-1.4 mg m(-2) y(-1) or 35-350 mg capita(-1) y(-1) of SigmaPCB(70), which is approximately 0.01-0.3% annually of total documented stocks. Canada, as one of 159 signatories of the Stockholm Convention and the 35 parties that have reported progress toward environmentally sound management of their PCB inventories by 2028, has passed national legislation with a timetable of inventory reductions. It is unclear whether this legislation will successfully reduce concentrations and exposures, however the analysis should inform our management of other contaminants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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