Chemical Banned 35 Years Ago Found in Yellow Clothes
PCB-11 present in 'worrisome' levels
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2014 12:28 AM CST
If it's yellow, chances are it contains PCB-11.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A chemical banned in the US 35 years ago is present in almost all yellow paper products and items of clothing, researchers warn. Though the production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which contaminate the environment and are believed to cause cancer, was outlawed, PCB-11 is allowed to remain in yellow pigment because it counts as an unintentional byproduct of manufacturing, Scientific American finds. The researchers say it is present in "worrisome" levels—all 16 clothing items they tested, most children's clothes bought at US Walmarts, contained it—and people are in almost constant contact with the pigments, which are mainly manufactured in Asia.

Unlike some other PCBs, PCB-11 doesn't accumulate in people or animals, so its health effects have been little studied. But researchers in 2007 found it in air samples taken near Chicago schools; in a 2013 study of women from from East Chicago, Ind., and Columbus Junction, Iowa, researchers identified it in 60% of their bloodstreams. The paint industry is aware of the contaminants, but "as of right now, it’s an unavoidable byproduct in these pigments," says a spokesman for an industry association. In Washington state, a lawmaker brought in a bill requiring the state to buy PCB-free products where possible after learning that the yellow ink on one box of Cheerios contained enough PCB-11 to be detected at a water treatment facility, the Spokesman-Review reports.

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
Anthony Franquiz
Feb 26, 2014 1:41 PM CST
That means Big Bird is a walking poison.
Lou Bernardo
Feb 25, 2014 10:51 PM CST
We're all going to die from everything around us. Watch out, the sky is falling.
Lou Bernardo
Feb 25, 2014 10:47 PM CST
Now the ignorant will read that and want all the Chinese banned because they are called the Yellow race. (though I've never seen a yellow person from China.)