THE “DREADED” PCBs
PCBs are a wonderful class of compounds. I started using them when I was 11 years old. Being chlorinated, they are very inert, like PVC. Almost nothing attacks them. They can stand rather high temperatures without decomposing. They are almost as environmentally stable as stone, but they are liquid and useful as an oil that needs to be stable. They’re particularly well suited as a heat exchange fluid in electrical transformers as they last almost forever.
In other words – THEY ARE PERFECT!
Unfortunately the “forever” aspect really bothers environmentalists. After all, what if it’s toxic and somehow bad for the environment? It might be around forever!!!!
PCBs do have one undesirable characteristic. They cause a nasty case of dermatitis called Chloracne if you get enough of it on your skin. It does this because it literally clogs your pores and your skin can’t breath. So a sensible person doesn’t use it for hand lotion.
General Electric used to discharge waste PCBs into the Hudson River in New York. Today there’s such a fuss about the PCBs in the mud on the bottom of the Hudson, that they are actually planning on dredging the river.
There is at least one natural organism that does “eat” PCBs. If they left the river alone, the PCBs would eventually disappear. If they dredge the river, where are they going to put all the muck if they’re really going to save the planet?
Speaking of all those stones that are environmentally stable, what are we going to do about them? If someone hits you in the head with one you could die!
Fergus S. Smith