Polychlorinated Biphenyls

The PCBs are a broad category of chemicals that have been well studied over the years. The concerns were initially on its environmental persistence, then the occupational hazards, then the dermal hazards, then the inhalation hazards (more recent). 

The toxicology of this family of chemicals is highly complex and the epidemiology is equally complicated.  Our firm is aware of the various different claims about these products and have been involved in some of the major litigation over the years.

Key Projects

  • Assessed the hazard to local citizens of dioxin contaminated sediments in San Jacinto Bay. We were retained to evaluate a fairly controversial site in the Houston ship channel to determine whether fish and other aquatic life contained a sufficient concentration of dioxins, furans and PCBs to pose a significant health hazard to local residents who ate these foods.
  • Retained to evaluate the hazard of PCBs in caulking in schools. It was determined around 2005 that PCBs had been used in silicone and other caulking materials for many years in the United States. This issue was addressed in the EU in the 1990s and early 2000s. New claims about the hazard surfaced in the fall of 2013, and we got involved in conducting a state of the art risk assessment.
  • Provided assistance to patent lawyers regarding protection of a patent on a process for removing PBDE flame retardants from pharmaceutical drugs. One of the new blockbuster drugs now on the market is based on concentrating oils from fish caught in Scandinavian countries that are known to contain considerable concentrations of dioxins, furans, PCBs and PBDEs.
  • Leaking drums of PCBs in the basement of an office building in Japan. It was believed that a few drums of PCBs had been accidently stored in the basement of an office building in Tokyo and that they leaked as much as 5 gallons of liquid (which seeped into the concrete).
  • Risk assessment of fish contaminated with PCB/1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (p-chlorophenyl)-ethane (DDT) from the Palos Verdes Shelf (California). From 1995-2000, developed and implemented a unique Monte Carlo-based assessment of the health risks from ingested fish containing PCB and DDT from contaminated sediments in Los Angeles harbor. This was, at the time, the most costly cleanup litigated by the Department of Justice (~ $1B). 
  • Assessment of PCBs in Hudson River (New York). In 1987-1997, designed studies of the concentrations and location of PCBs in sediments. A creel study was conducted of local and Native American fisherman in an effort to characterize the health risks resulting from PCBs. A risk assessment was later conducted.
  • Ecotoxicology assessment of contaminated sediments in the Newark Bay watershed (Passaic River, NJ). In 1991-1997, directed a project involving a complete assessment of the human, aquatic, and avian hazards posed by dioxin, PCBs, and other long-lived chemicals in sediments.
  • Risk assessment of PCBs in recycled paper products (California). In 1992-1993, was asked to determine if the possible human health risks due to using napkins and paper towels made from PCB-containing recycled paper exceeded limits established under California’s Proposition 65. Risks were determined to be well below the Proposition 65 risk criteria.


  • Scott, L.L.F., K.M. Unice, P. Scott, L.M. Nguyen, L.C. Haws, M. Harris, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2008. Addendum to: Evaluation of PCDD/F and dioxin-like PCB serum concentration data from the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the United States population. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 18:524-532.
  • Ferriby, L.L., J.S. Knutsen, M. Harris, K.M. Unice, P. Scott, P. Nony, L.C. Haws, and D.J. Paustenbach. 2007. Evaluation of PCDD/F and dioxin-like PCB serum concentration data from the 2001-2002. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of United States Population. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 17(4):358-71.
  • Ruby, M., S. Casteel, T. Evans, K. Fehling, D.J. Paustenbach, R. Budinsky, J. Giesy, L. Aylward, and B. Landenberger. 2004. Background concentrations of dioxins, furans, and PCBs in Sprague-Dawley rats and juvenile swine. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 67(11):845–50.
  • Wilson, N., P.S. Price and D.J. Paustenbach. 2002. Chapter 17: An analysis of the possible health risks to recreational fishers due to ingesting DDT and PCBs in fish from the Palos Verdes Shelf and Cabrillo Pier. In: D.J. Paustenbach (ed.), Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: Theory and Practice. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, pp. 913-1030.
  • Wilson, N.D., N.M. Shear, D.J. Paustenbach, and P.S. Price. 1998. The effect of cooking practices on the concentration of DDT and PCB compounds in the edible tissue of fish. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 8(3):423-40.
  • Finley, B.L., K.R. Trowbridge, S. Burton, D.M. Proctor, J.M. Panko, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1997. Preliminary assessment of PCB risks to human and ecological health in the lower Passaic River. J Toxicol Environ Health. 52(2):95-118.
  • Michaud, J.M., S.L. Huntley, R.A. Sherer, M.N. Gray, and D.J. Paustenbach. 1994. PCB and dioxin re-entry criteria for building surfaces and air. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 4(2):197-227.