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Maine Lawyer Basic Sues Monsanto Over PCB Contamination


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are chemical compounds that have been produced by the biotech firm Monsanto and have been utilized in a variety of merchandise attributable to their capability to resist excessive temperatures and strain. Nevertheless, they have been banned in 1979 after their carcinogenic potential and toxicity have been revealed — though, apparently, Monsanto has recognized about their toxicity for many years.

Now, the biotech big (now underneath Bayer) is being sued as soon as once more, this time by Aaron Frey, the legal professional common of Maine. “I’m taking motion to demand that Monsanto pay for the hurt it knowingly brought about our state,” he stated.1

Monsanto Accused of ‘Many years-Lengthy Marketing campaign of Misinformation and Deception’

On April 11, 2024, Frey filed a 47-page grievance2 in Cumberland County Superior Court docket, accusing Monsanto of promoting PCBs regardless of being conscious of their risks to human well being, wildlife and the atmosphere. In accordance with an article printed on Maine Wire:3

“The grievance alleges that Monsanto, regardless of ‘early data of the grave risks related to PCBs,’ ran a ‘decades-long marketing campaign of misinformation and deception’ to extend their fee of manufacture and sale of PCBs in Maine and elsewhere.

‘From 1960 to the mid-Seventies alone, Monsanto bought no less than tons of of hundreds of kilos of economic PCB mixtures to clients in Maine,’ the go well with reads.”

PCBs have brought about in depth injury to the state’s assets, polluting over 400 river stream miles and over 1.9 million ocean acres, classifying them as “impaired” as a result of presence of those chemical compounds.

The lawsuit claims that PCB-specific fish and shellfish consumption advisories have additionally been issued by the state due to contamination, and the general public is suggested to both keep away from consuming fish or to severely restrict the consumption of sure fish.

PCBs: Considered one of Monsanto’s Most Poisonous Legacies

PCBs are artifical chemical compounds consisting of hydrogen, carbon and chlorine atoms. They don’t have any style or scent and have a liquid construction that’s both oily or waxy. They have been first produced in 19294 by the Swann Chemical Company.5 Throughout that point, PCBs have been sought-after chemical compounds due to their excessive resistance to excessive temperatures and strain, making them beneficial to be used as hearth retardants and insulators.

The U.S. Environmental Safety Company’s web site lists a number of the makes use of of PCBs in industrial and business purposes, equivalent to:6

  • Electrical and hydraulic tools, in addition to warmth switch purposes
  • Paints (as plasticizers), plastics and rubber merchandise
  • Carbonless copy paper
  • Pigments and dyes

After Monsanto bought and absorbed Swann Chemical in 1935, they continued to fabricate and commercialize PCBs (bought underneath the model identify Aroclor), licensing these chemical compounds to different corporations as nicely. Up till its ban, total world manufacturing of PCBs was estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 million tonnes.7 The Maine Wire reviews:8

“Monsanto manufactured and bought PCBs from about 1935 to 1977, throughout that interval accounting for 99 % or extra of all PCBs used or bought inside the U.S., and used PCBs in all kinds of merchandise, together with paints, caulks, inks, dyes, lubricants, plastics, and different purposes.”

Frey says that he has copies of Monsanto inside memos verifying his claims — that the corporate was conscious of the dangers of PCBs however selected to show a blind eye for the sake of revenue.

There Are Dozens of Lawsuits Regarding PCBs’ Risks

Frey’s grievance provides to the rising checklist of lawsuits towards Monsanto over their PCB merchandise. In December 2023, the biotech big was ordered to pay $857 million to college students and oldsters from a Washington state faculty who claimed that the PCBs from fluorescent lighting fixtures triggered mind injury, autoimmune problems and different well being points. In a CBS Information article, Keri C. Hornbuckle, a professor and environmental engineer on the College of Iowa, stated:9

“Though they have been banned in 1979, they’re nonetheless current within the atmosphere. PCBs are known as ceaselessly chemical compounds as a result of they break down so slowly — PFAS compounds are additionally known as that for a similar cause.”

In July 2023, 90 faculty districts in Vermont additionally sued Monsanto citing poisonous PCB contamination of the indoor air of their instructional buildings. In accordance with an article from the Related Press,10 college students and college employees might be uncovered to PCBs once they breathe in or inhale contaminated mud and vapors. Touching surfaces with their arms, then utilizing them for consuming or consuming may cause them to ingest PCBs.

A yr earlier, Vermont turned the primary state within the nation to require older faculties to check their indoor air for these chemical compounds. The lawsuit11 states that eradicating PCBs might be costly, because it may require demolishing buildings and constructing new ones. This might probably value tons of of tens of millions (if not billions) of {dollars}.12

Monsanto Responds, Claims Allegations Are ‘Meritless’

The Maine Wire reviews that Frey can be looking for damages for the accidents and contamination Monsanto’s poisonous chemical compounds brought about to the individuals and the atmosphere. This can cowl the prices wanted for cleansing, monitoring and mitigating the state’s waterways which have been polluted by PCBs.13

In response to the Maine lawsuit, Monsanto issued an announcement, claiming that they’ve “robust defenses and can vigorously defend towards these claims.”14 In accordance with their press launch:15

“We are going to reply to the grievance in higher element in courtroom on the acceptable time, nevertheless, we consider this case is meritless as Monsanto by no means manufactured or disposed of PCBs within the State of Maine, and any PCB-containing merchandise that might be the supply of any impairments within the state have been manufactured and disposed by third events …

Underneath relevant legislation, a producer of element elements is just not chargeable for the downstream, third-party makes use of of a product that it lawfully launched into the stream of commerce and over which it has had no management for practically 5 a long time …

Monsanto discontinued its manufacturing of PCBs practically 5 a long time in the past, performed tons of of research about their security, and supplied warnings to its clients based mostly on the state-of-the science on the time.”

PCBs Have Been Linked to Most cancers and Different Well being Considerations

Regardless of being banned for many years, PCBs are nonetheless pervasive within the atmosphere, primarily as a result of they “resist degradation, quite than breaking down over time.”16 Consequently, they’re discovered all around the world — each one in every of us has been uncovered to those poisonous chemical compounds. The EPA web site explains:17

“PCBs don’t readily break down as soon as within the atmosphere. They will stay for lengthy intervals biking between air, water and soil. PCBs might be carried lengthy distances and have been present in snow and sea water in areas removed from the place they have been launched into the atmosphere. As a consequence, they’re discovered all around the world. On the whole, the lighter the type of PCB, the additional it may be transported from the supply of contamination.

PCBs can accumulate within the leaves and above-ground elements of crops and meals crops. They’re additionally taken up into the our bodies of small organisms and fish. Consequently, individuals who ingest fish could also be uncovered to PCBs which have bioaccumulated within the fish they’re ingesting.”

PCBs have been related to numerous opposed results and a number of other research18,19,20 have confirmed that they will put individuals liable to most cancers and different well being issues. A 2022 evaluate21 printed within the journal Toxics notes that they will goal your nervous, endocrine (thyroid, thymus, pancreas and gonads), reproductive, cardiovascular and immune programs.22 The extra they accumulate, the extra harmful they change into.

In Utero Publicity to PCBs Could Result in Autism in Youngsters

What’s alarming about PCBs is that they will even have an effect on unborn kids. In accordance with a 2021 meta-analysis23 that checked out 12 beforehand printed research, being uncovered to PCBs and pesticides throughout being pregnant can put your unborn youngster at a better danger of autism. The researchers famous:24

“We evaluated the affiliation between pesticide and PCB publicity throughout being pregnant and the chance of creating ASDs amongst completely different kids in keeping with out there proof from case-control and cohort epidemiological research.

The outcomes of the current examine point out the importance of the affiliation between pesticide and PCB publicity throughout being pregnant and the chance of ASDs amongst kids.”

One Approach to Cut back Your PCB Publicity: Select Protected Seafood

Regardless of the ever-present nature of PCBs, the excellent news is that there are specific measures you’ll be able to take to scale back your publicity. In Maine’s lawsuit,25 for instance, they famous that residents have been warned of PCB contamination in fish and shellfish, permitting them to make the good option to keep away from these contaminated merchandise.

The actual fact is that the majority main waterways on the planet at the moment are contaminated with PCBs and different toxins like mercury, heavy metals, dioxins and different agricultural chemical compounds that wind up within the atmosphere. Nevertheless, sure marine fish species are at a decrease danger of carrying these chemical compounds. Your finest decisions are small, cold-water, fatty fish, that are a really perfect supply of omega-3s with a low danger of contamination.

  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Wild-caught Alaskan salmon (licensed)

There’s a low danger of genuine wild-caught salmon accumulating excessive quantities of mercury and different toxins due to its quick life cycle, which is just about three years. Moreover, bioaccumulation of poisons can be decreased because it would not feed on different, already contaminated, fish.

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