ATSDR toxzine : PBBs : polybrominated biphenyls
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ATSDR toxzine : PBBs : polybrominated biphenyls

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  • Description:
    Polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) are chemicals that were added to plastics used in a variety of consumer products to make them difficult to burn.

    These products include items such as computer monitors, televisions, textiles, and plastic foams . Because PBBs were mixed into plastics rather than bound to them, they were able to leave the plastic and find their way into the environment . Commercial production of PBBs began in the 1970s . Manufacture of PBBs was discontinued in the United States in 1976 . Concern regarding PBBs is mainly related to exposures resulting from an agriculture contamination episode that occurred in Michigan over a 10-month period during 1973–1974.

    There are no known natural sources of PBBs in the environment . PBBs are solids and are colorless to off-white . PBBs enter the environment as mixtures containing a variety of individual brominated biphenyl (for PBBs) components, known as congeners . Some commercial PBB mixtures are known in the United States under the industrial trade name, FireMaster® . However, other flame retardant chemicals also may be identified by this name . PBBs are no longer used in North America because the agriculture contamination episode that occurred in Michigan in 1973– 1974 led to the cessation of its production.


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