The conviction related to the continued use, and failure to store or send for destruction to an authorized facility, of equipment containing PCBs at concentrations in excess of those permitted under the regulations.Of the over 100 convictions under numerous federal environmental statutes and regulations listed by Environment Canada on its website (dating back to 2011), only three relate to PCB infractions.
This may make sense, in so far as prosecutions are the most expensive form of enforcement tool, and should be used only when most necessary.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic chemicals that were manufactured for use in various industrial and commercial applications - including oil in electrical and hydraulic equipment, and plasticizers in paints, plastics and rubber products - because of their non-flammability, chemical stability, high boiling point and electrical insulation properties.
They can cause a skin disorder called chloracne, a severe rash.
Chloracne may last a short time, but can also cause permanent disfigurement.
Acute (short term) health effects are usually not serious, although they can include eye, nose and throat irritation, vomiting, stomach pains, loss of appetite and fatigue. PCBs can damage the liver at very low levels and are known to cause reproductive problems and cancer.
Other chronic effects include swelling of the eyelids, excessive pigmentation of the skin and swelling of joints.
Transformers can overheat due to electrical malfunctions.
When PCBs are hot enough, they will decompose, producing polychlorinated dibenzofurans and dioxins, both of which are much more toxic than PCBs.
Some PCBs share a structural similarity and toxic mode of action with dioxin.
Other physical and chemical properties vary widely across the class.
Intentional degradation as a treatment of unwanted PCBs generally requires high heat or catalysis (see Methods of destruction below).