What are Polychlorinated biphenyls

PCBs are mixtures of over 200 individual chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds (known as congeners). In the past they were manufactured and used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electronics. They were also used as hydraulic fluids and as components in brake linings and in the manufacture of adhesives, sealants, varnishes, and printing inks. There are no known natural sources of PCBs.  While they were useful in manufacturing, they are also very persistent in the environment and have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects.

Since the 1980’s, the production, importation, and use of PCBs have been banned or tightly regulated in many countries. PCBs are banned in New Zealand, but small amounts can still turn up and their storage and disposal need to be managed effectively.

The Environmental Protection Agency manages PCBs in New Zealand. In December 2016 the EPA updated the Hazardous Substances (Storage and Disposal of Persistent Organic Pollutants) Notice 2004 to allow for the disposal of PCBs to be managed in a similar way to other persistent organic pollutants. 

Read the 2016 Notice.