EPA says Polychlorinated Biphenyls can cause cancer

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says a man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons used in industrial and commercial applications have a range of toxicity that could cause cancer.

A research carried out by EPA and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)  Project on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), revealed that  the chemical has a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system  if not handled properly.

The EPA made these known at a stakeholders and media briefing forum in Accra on Thursday.

The interaction with the stakeholders and media was aimed at helping to spread the information on the dangers of the chemical and initiate efforts to ensure its elimination.

The Chlorinated hydrocarbons are used in industrial and commercial applications including electrical, heat transfer and hydraulic equipment, plasticizers in paints, as well as plastics rubber products, in pigment, dyes, carbonless copy paper and many others.

Some power transformers and capacitors were also containing the chemical and as a result, 12,000 transformers belonging to the Ghana Electricity Company would be sampled and analysed,

The EPA and its development partners had provided four L-2000 PCB Analyzers at a cost of 40,000 US dollars  to the Ghana Electricity Company, the Volta River Authority, Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana  Atomy Energy Commission to use in checking imported dielectric fluids and potential PCB containing equipment such as transformers.

The EPA said so far inventory had been carried out on more than 9,000 transformers nationwide.

Mr John A. Pwamang, a Director at the EPA, said the EPA implemented the project with the Electricity Company of Ghana, the Volta River Authority and the Ghana Grid Company Limited.

He said task teams had been formed and provided with the necessary logistics for a nationwide inventory of PCBs and possible PCBs –containing equipment.

He said inventories on production, export, import, use and distribution of PCBs and PCB containing equipment were first compiled in 2003 and the Electricity Company of Ghana, the Volta River Authority and their clients including manufacturing industries, mining companies, and hotels were the major custodian PBC equipment.

Mr Pwamang said a temporary storage site had been acquired at the ECG Training School in Tema for storage of PCBs and PCB contaminated equipment and 116 pieces of pure PCB capacitors from Achimota and Tema had been conveyed there for disposal.

He said there were no specific regulations pertaining to the PCBs in Ghana saying a draft legislation on the control and management of PCBs as well as framework for communication strategy on PCBs had been developed.

Mr Jonathan Krueger, a representative of UNITAR, said the PCBs were some of the most dangerous compounds ever made by humans and they had remained a global concern.

He said the Convention has concerns for 22 substances, including PCBs, in 178 countries around the world and gave the assurance that UNITAR would continue to assist in strengthening the capacities and capabilities of government officials and national stakeholders in the sound management of PCBs.

Mr Joseph Appiah-Gyapong, a representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said about 2.9 million US dollars had been made available for the PCBs project and called for concerted efforts from stakeholders towards the elimination of the chemical in Ghana.

The Project costs $6.5 million and is funded by the Global Environment Facility and other partners.

Source: GNA

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