What are Furans and PCBs?
PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyls and PCBs had started to become an environmental concern in the 1980s and 1990s. PCBs are persistent in the environment and have the ability to bioaccumulate in living organisms. In high enough concentrations, PCBs can kill animals or cause liver damage. Humans affected by PCBs may see acne and rashes, liver damage, or hinder cognitive development in children.
Furans are PCBs that have been contaminated by oxygen which slightly alters the structure of the PBC by introducing an oxygen molecule. Most commercially produced PCBs are contaminated with furans. Exposure to furans can cause headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, unconsciousness, suffocation, and pulmonary edema at high concentrations.
For both PCBs and Furans, the toxicity pattern depends on the placement of chlorines and with the right configuration of chlorines, both can become extremely toxic.
Furans and PCBs in San Diego
PCBs have been found by an organization called Coastkeeper in the San Diego Bay in the sediment and fish. The chemical company Monsanto, although not directly responsible for the contamination for San Diego Bay, the San Diego Unified Port District is suing Monsanto over the PCB contamination. Monsanto had once manufactured PCBs but are now focused solely on agriculture. Monsanto states that they are not responsible for the contamination of the Bay for they had ceased the production of PBCs before the U.S. ban on PCBs. Even in Monsanto loses the lawsuit, the PCBs in San Diego will not be gone anytime soon and the clean up effort will continue for many years to come.