Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

Warning symbol PCB

Warning symbol
Source: T. Michel, fotolia

From around 1950, PCBs were often to be found as plasticisers in a number of open applications as well as in fluorescent lamp capacitors and other closed applications. Open applications using PCBs are particularly likely in buildings erected before the end of the 1970s. Based on current knowledge, open PCB applications are unlikely in buildings constructed after 1980.

The PCB products used in open applications up until around 1975 can still pollute indoor air today. The extent of that pollution depends on the type of PCB, the PCB content in the product concerned, the type of material contaminated, the quantity and nature of the PCP products in the room, the thermal environment in the room, the building’s surface temperatures and the weather conditions. In such rooms, it is also possible for components and items that do not contain PCBs to be contaminated over time by substances that do contain PCBs and thus contribute to pollution in the indoor air themselves.

Further information

  • Dioxins - Information desk oft he German Umweltbundesamt


Dr Simone Peters

Hazardous substances: handling, protective measures

Tel: +49 30 13001-3320
Fax: +49 30 13001-38001