In 1929, production of Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in the United States began, and it lasted until its production and use were outlawed in the late ’70s. When it became apparent that PCBs contributed to a wide range of health problems, they were eventually banned.
Many people and animals were exposed to PCBs during their production over a 50-year period. This is because the chemicals were once thought to be safe before their deadly nature was discovered. Because of how poorly these compounds degrade, they continue to cause harm.
The tort attorneys at Berry Law are willing to fight against this corporate irresponsibility and may be able to help you pursue a legal claim against this chemical company.
Legal Actions Concerning Monsanto PCBs
Legal action concerning PCBs typically targets Monsanto because of the company’s central involvement in the development and dissemination of PCBs. Since the 1990s, the firm has been the target of numerous PCB-related litigation.
PCBs in a Washington School
Multiple Monsanto PCB lawsuits have been filed in Washington State due to the presence of PCBs in a local school. Ten students and their families have been awarded a $275 million dollar verdict against Monsanto for toxic exposure to PCBs that resulted in neurological damage.
PCB Contamination in the City of Baltimore’s Water Supply
The City of Baltimore filed a lawsuit in 2019 against Monsanto alleging that their municipal water systems, including their stormwater systems, had been impacted by Monsanto’s use of PCBs. Monsanto attempted to have the case thrown out in 2020, however, the Court rejected their request. Ultimately, cases filed by municipalities nationwide against Monsanto, Pharmacia LLC, and Solutia LLC – including that of the City of Baltimore – were combined into one class-action lawsuit involving over 2,500 municipal class members.
In November of 2022, the City of Baltimore announced that the parties had come to a $537 million settlement agreement with Monsanto. These funds will be used to pay for the monitoring, clean-up, and restoration of the water systems for the municipalities named in the complaint.
PCBs in Rivers and Streams
Several states are suing the company to retain restitution for the company’s pollution of rivers and streams and its lasting effect on wildlife and people in the contaminated area. While the full effects of the chemicals have yet to be known, a tsunami of additional cases against Monsanto may be on the horizon.
Pending PCB Lawsuits
Some pending lawsuits nationwide pertaining to Monsanto and potential PCB contamination include:
- Marin County, California filed a lawsuit for Monsanto PCB contamination.
- The Illinois Attorney General filed a lawsuit for the continued effects of PCB contamination by a Monsanto facility.
- Ohio’s AG Yost reached an $80 million Monsanto PCB settlement over hazards.
- New Jersey targeted Monsanto for environmental damage.
What Exactly Are PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)?
PCBs are a group of more than 200 man-made chemicals that are all very similar. They are clear to yellow liquids or solids that are oily and have no smell or taste. Monsanto Inc. made them in the United States, mostly under the brand name Aroclor.
Electrical equipment, like capacitors and transformers, used PCBs. They were also used in hydraulic fluids, fluids for transferring heat, plasticizers, inks, lubricants, and surface coatings. Since 1929, over one billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured.
Because of the hazards of PCB exposure to human health, commercial production ceased in 1977. Even though PCB use was outlawed by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1979, the agency did not mandate that the chemicals be withdrawn from commerce, so many things made before 1979 still have PCBs in them.
EPA PCB Exposure Limits Frequently Exceeded
The EPA specifies the maximum levels of PCBs permitted in construction and other materials. Despite this, study after study reveals that these boundaries are far exceeded. It has indicated that caulk containing PCBs in excess of 50 ppb is not permitted and must be removed.
As caulking in certain public buildings has been found to surpass 200,000 parts per million (ppm), this rule imposes a large potential cost on building owners. One-third of the buildings studied in a San Francisco study had caulking above the 50 ppm threshold.
Confusingly, the EPA doesn’t require testing of existing caulk and the result is a dangerous amount of PPC left in commercial structures, government buildings, and schools. Our tort lawsuit attorneys are currently involved in litigation over the health risks imposed by these oversights.
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There is a Serious Risk of Health Problems for Workers Exposed to PCBs
Those who manufactured these compounds and those who worked in industries where products containing these chemicals were regularly utilized, such as the construction industry, have the highest incidence of PCB-related health disorders.
Due to the fact that many PCB-containing goods were never removed from older structures, the danger of PCB exposure remains significant for workers rebuilding or demolishing older properties. It is crucial to be aware of the potential for exposure to toxic substances and to take precautions against them.
Where PCBs Are Commonly Found
Many schools and government buildings were built between 1950 and 1984, and there’s a risk that they contain PCBs manufactured by Monsanto.
During that time period, more than 48,000 schools were built in the United States, and over half of them contained PCB-laced products, particularly window and door caulk and lighting ballasts.
Thousands of additional government buildings, libraries, college dorm rooms, and residence halls should be added to that total. Many of them also employed PCB-containing building materials. Typical PCB sources include:
- Glues for ceiling tiles
- Various electrical devices
- Fluorescent light ballasts
- Electrical switches
- Carbonless copy paper
- Voltage regulators
- Motor oil
- Oil-based paint
- Cable insulation
- Thermal insulation material (fiberglass, felt, foam, and cork)
- Floor finish
As these materials deteriorate, they emit PCBs into neighboring materials, the air, the soil surrounding the building, or a mix of all three. A tort lawsuit lawyer may be able to help you seek damages if you have been injured by your exposure to PCBs.
Large-Scale Litigation Over Toxic Exposure – What Is a Toxic Tort?
Justification for a mass tort action exists when numerous people were exposed to the same risk yet suffered widely varying adverse effects or financial losses. In cases where many people are exposed to harmful substances or chemicals, a mass tort action could be the best course of action.
Exposure to the toxins at work, at home, or just by living in the area could have affected the plaintiffs in a toxic mass tort action.
Long delays in the onset of symptoms after exposure to a toxic chemical are typical, as seen in the cases of Vietnam veterans harmed by Agent Orange. This complicates the proof required to successfully sue the manufacturer of a dangerous substance. Some examples of toxic tort cases in the past have included:
- Dumping of toxic waste in rivers or other sources of drinking water is one example of industrial pollution disposal.
- Toxic effects of lead in paint
- Toxic chemicals like Agent Orange
- Pesticides and herbicides
Cases involving asbestos are the Grandfather of mass torts and provide a seemingly limitless stream of litigation. While the widespread effects of PCB contamination are still being assessed, a tort lawsuit lawyer can help you to determine the best course of legal action for your circumstances.
Potential Health Risks Associated With Monsanto PCB Contamination
Cancer, difficulty conceiving, reproductive toxicity, abnormalities in neurodevelopment and behavior, and alterations in the liver, thyroid, skin, and eyes are only some of the many adverse impacts of PCB exposure on human health.
Sadly, PCB exposure can frequently go undetected until it is too late because there is no recognized taste or smell for these chemicals. Recovering compensation for these damages can be crucial for persons exposed to hazardous quantities of these chemicals.
To some extent, practically everyone on Earth has been exposed to PCBs due to the widespread usage and distribution of these compounds. However, whether or not this exposure causes negative impacts is dependent upon a number of variables, including:
- How long you’ve been around PCBs
- The amount of PCBs you’ve been exposed to
- A PCB’s effect on your body’s sensitivity
- Whether or not PCBs were mixed with other hazardous substances
A PCB exposure lawyer can listen to the details of your specific case to determine whether or not you may have a claim. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to help you recover damages and prove liability against Monsanto.
PCBs Long and Damaging Legacy
PCBs do not degrade easily. Therefore, they will likely persist in our environment for decades to come. The PCBs’ effects on the environment will remain in the soil, water, air, plants, and marine life.
Berry Law has been concerned about these consequences for a long time, particularly as they pertain to the health of the people who were impacted. For communities and individuals without the financial means to cover the expenses of the damages caused by Monsanto PCBs, securing reimbursement is of the utmost importance.
The tort lawyers at Berry Law may be able to help you seek compensation. Contact us today to learn more about your legal options in a Monsanto PCB lawsuit.