Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were first synthesized in 1881, and commercial production in the United States began in 1929. PCBs were used in the electrical industry, as well as surface coatings and plasticizers in sealants, caulking, rubber, paints and asphalt. By 1972, scientific evidence showed that PCBs were an environmental and human health hazard and, in 1977, the manufacturing and non-electrical use of PCBs was banned. PCBs are a chemical that gained a lot of attention when scientific evidence began to suggest that it was an extremely dangerous substance.
The Great Lakes are a set of five lakes in Canada and the United States, connected by approximately 5,000 tributaries. The five lakes are Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes basin includes two countries, eight states, one province, dozens of tribes and First Nations communities and hundreds of local municipal and regional governments.
POPs are a group of man-made substances, most of which share characteristics like low water solubility (they do not easily dissolve in water), the ability to accumulate in fat (high lipophilicity), and resistance to biodegradation (they take a very long time to break down and stop being harmful). The name POPs refers to many pollutants such as pesticides like DDT and pollutants like PCBs. These chemicals come from pesticides, industrial chemicals, and are the unwanted by-products of industrial processes or combustion.