San Diego and the Fight Against Furans and PCBs

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.


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4 thoughts on “San Diego and the Fight Against Furans and PCBs

  1. It’s good to be informed about what is happening so close to USD’s campus! I wish more people knew about the chemicals affecting the bay so that swimmers would know. Also very few of us are aware of where our seafood comes from, maybe best to check before buying!!

  2. It’s interesting to think that so many people might be suffering from these symptoms and not know what is causing them. It also interesting that Monsanto is claiming that even though they did use PCBs they are not responsible for the contamination of the Bay.

  3. It is rather scary to know that chemicals which have the potential to do such harm are located within a body of water which many fish in. I wonder what the concentrations of PCBs are in San Diego Bay and how those levels affect the fish and fishermen who eat them.

  4. I wonder if the San Diego Unified Port District will win the case! Very interesting considering the facts presented on the case. Hopefully this case will put the San Diego Bay back on the right track to being free from PCBs and Furans.

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