The Hazards of PCB Pollution

By Wyatt Lucas, Alex Botnick, and Prince Agyemang


Superfund sites are hazardous contaminated areas that are in need of long-term cleanup. The Kin-Buc Landfill in Edison, New Jersey is just one of the many superfund sites in the state (EPA Superfund Program: Kin-Buc Landfill). Now an inactive landfill, the 220-acre site was active from the late 1940’s up until 1976. From 1971 to 1976, the landfill was used for municipal, industrial, and hazardous waste. Hazardous waste was accepted up until 1976 and was discontinued when the state revoked the landfill’s permit for violating environmental regulations. The hazardous liquid waste that was dumped at the site seeped into nearby creeks, resulting in Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) pollution (EPA Superfund Program: Kin-Buc Landfill).

PCBs are organic chlorine compounds that form oily liquids used in electrical equipment such as transformers and capacitors. PCBs are also found in hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, and plasticizers. These chemicals were used due to their resistance to extreme temperature and pressure. In 1977, the production of PCBs came to an end and by 1979, the EPA officially banned the use of PCBs due to their negative environmental and health effects (Illinois Department of Public Health).

The Kin-Buc Landfill is highly contaminated with PCBs. These chemicals pollute the air, water, soil, and sediments within the area. Nearby bodies of water such as Edmonds Creek, Rum Creek, and the Raritan River all have PCBs detected in their waters. Other pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals have been detected at the landfill as well (EPA 2016).

The purpose of this essay is to identify how PCBs are released into the environment, the effects of PCBs on the environment, and solutions on how to stop PCB emissions as well as how to degrade the chemical. The Kin-Buc Landfill will serve as an example of how PCB pollution takes effect on the environment, as seen in figure 1. Continue reading “The Hazards of PCB Pollution”