Superfund Research Program
Sources of Airborne PCB Congeners
In 2019, project researchers produced four publications and five new datasets. In 2019, the researchers published a laboratory study of emissions of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from paint colorants purchased from major paint retailers. The study shows that PCB congeners are present in modern paint, and emissions from wet and dry paint applied indoors can cause significant levels of airborne PCBs indoors. This study confirms field studies the researchers previously published from air sampling inside schools and in Chicago: modern paint is a current and large source of PCBs to air and contributes to human exposure to these carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxins. The research team also published the results of a collaboration with Boston University SRP Center researchers to evaluate the impact of PCB emissions from New Bedford Harbor. In the most recent publication, the research team shows that emissions represent a significant risk to people living close to the harbor. Lastly, the team published two papers about air/water exchange of PCBs in Lake Michigan. The first of these used a new method – based on passive sampling – that confirmed Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal as a source of airborne PCBs. The second showed that the city of Chicago continues to be a major source of airborne PCBs to Lake Michigan. The field study confirms this long-standing hypothesis. Simultaneous to the publication of these reports, the researchers the data to public data repositories in a manner designed to be findable, freely accessible, interoperable, and reusable. The researchers continue to release data associated with past studies, including the 2019 release of the entire congener-specific dataset from the field study of PCBs in school air.