So you may be wondering what are PCBs? And are they in my seafood dinner tonight?
Polychlorinated biphenyls, or simply PCBs, are man-made compounds that were intended to make our lives easier, but are beginning to have the opposite effect. PCBs are generally used in a number of industrial applications, such as for coolants and stabilizers in various electronic components and devices. Their production was banned in the United States in the 1970s due to health concerns, but they still persist in the environment to this day.
PCBs are classified as “persistent organic pollutants”—carbon-based industrial problem children that, due to their chemical stability, take many years to break down. Numerous U.S. rivers and harbors have served as dumping grounds for PCBs, where they are consumed by local aquatic life (and potentially humans).
PCBs have been linked to severe skin irritation, menstrual disruption, decreased immune function, liver damage, and cancer.
Within Sustainable Sushi, all fish that are known to be potential PCB risks display a warning label.
Keep an eye out for fish that have high PCB content — they should be avoided.
Casson Trenor is a frequent commentator on sustainable seafood issues. He has been featured in regional, national, and international media outlets, including CNN, NPR, Forbes, New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times.