Critical reviews in: Carcinogenicity of polyhalogenated biphenyls: PCBs and PBBs

Eric M. Silberhorn, Howard P. Glauert, Larry W. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) are compounds whose physical/chemical properties led to their widespread commercial use. Although their production has been banned or severely limited in most countries since the 1970s, the persistence and stability of these compounds have resulted in a worldwide distribution, especially of PCBs. PBB contamination is limited principally to the state of Michigan, where a series of tragic errors eventually resulted in the accumulation of residues in livestock and the general human population. Long-term exposure to PCBs and PBBs in animals has been associated with the induction of neoplastic nodules in the liver and in some cases hepatocellular carcinoma. This review discusses the role of PCBs and PBBs in the process of carcinogenesis. The mutagenicity/genotox-icity of these compounds, as well as their initiation/promotion potential is discussed. The epidemiology of PCB and PBB exposure is reported along with an estimation of the risk of cancer to humans. Finally, possible molecular mechanisms of action are suggested for polyhalogenated biphenyls in cancer development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-496
Number of pages57
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Special thanks to Pam Webb for her patience, time, and typing skills, which were necessary for the preparation of this manuscript. The authors would also like to thank Mark Beaty, Inder Chaudhary, Allen Robison, and John Soldo for help in completing this manuscript. In addition, the advice of Drs. Gerald Rosenthal and Farrel Robinson is greatly appreciated. During preparation of this review, financial assistance for one of the authors (E. S.) was provided by a University of Kentucky Dissertation Year Fellowship.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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