Scientists Slam Unscientific PCB Allegations

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The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today denounced the opinion expressed earlier this month by EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner at her testimony before a New York State Assembly Committee concerned with the removal of PCBs from the Hudson River. Browner s testimony was part of a campaign by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky that alleges adverse health effects from the consumption of contaminated fish. There is no scientific evidence that trace levels of environmental PCBs are a health threat to the public.

ACSH s board of scientists takes issue with Browner s testimony that PCBs probably cause cancer in people. The panel says that while Ms. Browner s comments may be persuasive to the general public and to those with little or no knowledge about PCBs, the potential hazard involved in the removal of PCBs may outweigh the public health benefits. There is certainly no evidence that PCB removal will result in greater protection of public health. Ms. Browner has overstated the threat relative to the risk it poses to humans.

Browner s pronouncements rely on animal studies, while the preponderance of the evidence from human health studies fails to show that PCBs are either toxic or carcinogenic at the levels at which the public is exposed.

After reviewing the scientific literature on PCBs, the ACSH panel concludes that the collective weight of evidence of studies involving PCB exposure is at odds with the critics' conclusions that PCBs are a probable cause of human cancer