The Health Effects of Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Polychlorinated Biphenyls or “PCBs” are widely known to cause a number of serious health problems. Studies conducted on animals who have been exposed to PCBs have discovered elevated rates of cancer in animals with exposure to PCBs, as well as a number of non-cancer problems, including a depressed immune system, disrupted reproductive health and nervous system function, as well as an effected endocrine system.

Studies conducted on humans have provided similar results. The cancer and non-cancer results of exposure to PCB may be interconnected, as a depressed immune system and affected endocrine, reproductive, and nervous systems can contribute to cancer.


When it comes to classifying something as a carcinogen, the EPA relies on a “weight of proof” method. This means that the more cases there are, the better likelihood there will be that a substance will be classified as a carcinogen. Taking this approach, PCBs have been conclusively identified as a carcinogen in animals and as a “probable” carcinogen in humans.

This substance was first brought to the EPA’s attention in the 1980s, and the first studies were completed in 1987. Peer review of this study agreed that PCBs are likely to be human carcinogens, based on the fact that evidence supports PCBs causing cancer in animals and its potential to cause cancer in humans. While this first study did not take into account different kinds of PCB or how they are mixed, it still stands as one of the best studies into the harmfulness of these substances.

While there is not enough evidence yet to say that PCBs definitely cause cancer in humans, there is enough evidence to suggest it, especially based on the fact that it does cause cancer in animals.

Other Diseases

Because the immune system is vital to the protection of the body and fighting infections, having a depressed immune system is a serious problem. The most widely accepted studies about the effects of PCBs on the immune system were conducted on a number of animals, and show that after exposure to PCBs, across the board, the animals had a decrease resistance to viruses.

In the category of reproductive health, studies have shown that exposure to PCBs affects birth weight, gestational age, conception rates, and live birth rates, all negatively. In that same vein, test subjects that were exposed to PCB from the beginning of life had serious neurological and endocrine impediments, which made it difficult for those subjects to progress at the same rate as test subjects that were not exposed.

Both humans and animals who have been exposed to the substance have difficulty learning and have abnormal thyroid levels, which stunts the individual both mentally and physically.

Hazardous Waste and Substances Facts

Chemicals are used to make just about everything we use, from paper, to medicine, to clothing, to gasoline. Chemicals are the building blocks of our world, and while most are perfectly safe to use, there are quite a few, especially made by humans, that can be dangerous, and which need to be disposed of properly, in order to maintain our safety.

What is classified as hazardous waste?

Obviously, not all chemicals are hazardous. Chemical compounds like sodium chloride (table salt), are used every day and are perfectly safe for use to use. Other chemicals are not so safe and can actually harm our health and the environment if not properly disposed of. Some of the most common examples of hazardous waste include batteries, bug spray, and paint. These and other household examples of hazardous waste need to be properly disposed of in order to protect our health and the environment.

What different kinds of hazardous waste exist?

There are essentially four basic kinds of hazardous waste. The first is corrosive, which eats away at some materials, including clothing and skin. These are acids, like those commonly found in batteries. The acids themselves and the vapor from the acid can be dangerous.

The second kind is ignitable. These are substances that easily ignite—examples include paint thinner and gasoline. The vapors are usually irritating, but the flammability is the real danger.

The third kind of hazardous waste is reactive. These substances are less common, but they can still be very dangerous. The most common example is bleach and ammonia. These substances react with one another and create a gas that is extremely deadly.

The fourth and final kind of hazardous waste is toxic. These are chemicals that are designed to kill things, from bugs to weeds to germs, but can also be harmful to humans, whether ingested or absorbed through skin.

Why is hazardous waste dangerous?

Hazardous waste usually enters a person’s system in one of two ways, the first being inhalation. This occurs when a person breathes in the chemical or its vapors. If a chemical gives off a toxic gas, this can be very dangerous, harming the health of the person who breathes in these vapors. Even if the substance is not toxic, vapors or the chemicals that create them can irritate the mouth, throat, and lungs of a person, causing serious health problems.

The second way a person may come into contact with hazardous waste is ingestion. Even if it accidental, ingesting any kind of hazardous waste is extremely dangerous, as many of these chemicals can burn your organs or cause other serious problems.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

5 Mistakes that Lead to Hazardous Waste Fines

No one wants to be slapped with a hazardous waste fine. Not only is the fine punishment, the knowledge that you may have done something that could harm the environment can weigh heavy on many people’s shoulders. This fine can also snowball in to a long and expensive legal battle and investigation. In order to avoid the hassle and the guilt, we have compiled a list of five mistakes that lead to fines.

  1. Toxic waste into the sewer system – This is less common these days than it was in the eighties and nineties, but we will still find some companies dumping toxic waste into a sewer system, either without realizing that it could be harmful, or laboring under the belief that they will not be caught. This kind of dumping is unequivocally illegal, and because most municipal sewer systems are equipped with specialized sensors, it is now easier than ever for law enforcement individuals to figure out who has been dumping what kind of waste into the system. The take away from this mistake is to just not dump your hazardous waste into the sewer.
  2. Incorrectly labeling hazardous waste. This is one of the most common mistakes and definitely one of the most common reasons a company is fined by the Department of Toxic Substances. It is easy to commit. You’re just working along, and a container is incorrectly labelled—or, even worse, not labeled at all. Labels are required by just about every state, not just on the containers themselves, but on the rooms that house the containers.
  3. No lids for hazardous waste containers, or improper use of lids. This occurs most often as a result of incorrect handling procedures. Both the EPA and the DTS require most hazardous materials to be in closed containers. This means that the lid is closed tightly enough to prevent both leaves and the escape of vapors. Neglecting this could lead to serious fines, so make sure that all containers are properly closed.
  4. An improper contingency plan. As a company that handles hazardous waste, it is required by law that you have a contingency plan. However, some companies, even if they have a plan, will not keep it up to date. This can lead to serious fines, as every company is required to have an updated plan that includes the newest guidelines and methods.
  5. Exceeding the limit of hazard waste accumulation. Most companies are only allowed to store 55 gallons of waste at a time, before correctly disposing of it. Having more than this allotted amount can incur fines, even if the containers themselves are properly closed and sealed and the waste is being properly disposed of.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

How to Identify Waste and Determine if It Is Hazardous

When it comes to waste, how you dispose of it will depend heavily on whether or not it is hazardous. In order to make it easy to identify hazardous waste, here is a guide which should simplify the process.

Is the waste solid? Keep in mind that solid waste does not necessarily mean that the waste is in a solid state, chemically speaking. Gas, liquids, and solids can all be classified as solid waste. In short, solid waste means anything that is completely waste, which can no longer be used for its original purpose—in short, solid is waste is anything that is “entirely” or “solidly” waste. All hazardous waste is solid waste.

Is the waste exempt from hazardous waste regulations? There are some solid wastes, such as those from households and oils that can be recycled, that are not hazardous waste.

Is the waste hazardous in either a chemical or physical way? If the waste is not one of the “exempted” substances, is it dangerous? There are basically seven different ways to tell whether or not something is hazardous.

  1. F-listed – waste from “non-specific sources.”
  2. K-listed – waste from “specific sources,” and example being run off from iron and steel manufacturing
  3. P- and U-listed – chemicals that have not been used or have been thrown out, including containers that may have a residue or anything used to clean up a spill.
  4. Will it burn? If the flash point of a liquid is less than 140 degrees F, it is considered hazardous.
  5. Will it corrode? If the pH of a substance dissolved or suspended in water is less than 2 or more than 12.5 and can corrode steel, it is hazardous.
  6. Will it react? The production of fumes, instability, explosions, gas production, either when pressure or heat are applied or when wet, the substance is reactive and is hazardous.
  7. Is it toxic? Waste has to be analyzed by a laboratory in order to be deemed toxic, where it will be compared with known toxic substances. If it does match any toxicity standards, it will be deemed hazardous. Pesticides, water treatment substances, and organic manufacturing run-off are the most common kinds of toxic hazardous waste.

In order to determine whether or not the substance really is hazardous, a sample must be taken and testing performed. Most of the time, testing is necessary when a new manufacturing process is introduced, when there has not been proper disposal of waste in the past, when waste has been incorrectly identified in the past, and under certain EPA rules.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.

What is Considered Hazardous Material?

What is Considered Hazardous Material?

According to the Institute of Hazardous Waste Management, A hazardous material is any item or agent (biological, chemical, physical) which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals, or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors.

Hazardous materials professionals are responsible for and properly qualified to manage such materials. This includes managing and/or advising other managers on such items at any point in their life-cycle, from process planning and development of new products; through manufacture, distribution and use; to disposal, cleanup and remediation.

How to Find a Hazardous Waste Professional?

Hazardous materials are defined and regulated in the United States primarily by laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Each has its own definition of a “hazardous material.”

Brickley Environmental = Hazardous Waste Professional

Brickley Environmental has the certified personnel and necessary equipment to provide fast, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for the packaging, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste. As a licensed hauler and handler of hazardous waste with more than 30 years of experience in the environmental remediation field, we have safely removed and transported all kinds of contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, asbestos, mercury, heavy metals, and more. These hazardous materials require specific packaging, manifesting, transportation, and disposal methods, and should be handled by licensed, experienced professionals familiar with all current requirements.

Hazardous waste is defined as waste that is, or may become, detrimental to the health of the public or to the environment. In the environmental remediation industry, hazardous waste is the refuse of hazardous material that has been removed from a building or other site. In other words, it’s the material contaminated with asbestos, lead, mold, or any other contaminant, that was removed in the remediation process and must now be safely disposed of.

At Brickley Environmental, we are fully certified to remove and transport hazardous waste from residential, commercial, and governmental sites. Our operations manager and project managers are certified in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), and we follow all applicable laws and regulations governing the packaging, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.

Contact an expert today by calling 1.800.530.3366 or visit the contact page.

More Information

OSHA’s definition includes any substance or chemical which is a “health hazard” or “physical hazard,” including: chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic agents, irritants, corrosives, sensitizers; agents which act on the hematopoietic system; agents which damage the lungs, skin, eyes, or mucous membranes; chemicals which are combustible, explosive, flammable, oxidizers, pyrophorics, unstable-reactive or water-reactive; and chemicals which in the course of normal handling, use, or storage may produce or release dusts, gases, fumes, vapors, mists or smoke which may have any of the previously mentioned characteristics. (Full definitions can be found at 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.1200.)

EPA incorporates the OSHA definition, and adds any item or chemical which can cause harm to people, plants, or animals when released by spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping or disposing into the environment. (40 CFR 355 contains a list of over 350 hazardous and extremely hazardous substances.)

DOT defines a hazardous material as any item or chemical which, when being transported or moved, is a risk to public safety or the environment, and is regulated as such under the: Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR 100-180); International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code; Dangerous Goods Regulations of the International Air Transport Association; Technical Instructions of the International Civil Aviation Organization; U.S. Air Force Joint Manual, Preparing Hazardous Materials for Military Air Shipments.

The NRC regulates items or chemicals which are “special nuclear source” or by-product materials or radioactive substances. (See 10 CFR 20).

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