Volume 87 Issue 16 | p. 32 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 20, 2009

Jury Clears Pharmacia In Anniston PCB Case

Department: Government & Policy
PCB-contaminated soil in Anniston, Ala.
Credit: Cheryl Hogue/C&EN
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PCB-contaminated soil in Anniston, Ala.
Credit: Cheryl Hogue/C&EN

An Alabama jury has ruled against five people who claimed that polychlorinated biphenyls manufactured by Monsanto at its old plant in Anniston caused their diabetes and arthritis. The company, which for a time was part of Pharmacia, produced PCBs at the plant from 1929 to 1971. The chemicals, once widely used as industrial coolants and lubricants, were banned in 1979 and are classified as probable human carcinogens. Pharmacia argued that the plaintiffs, who were between the ages of 67 and 89, had a number of well-established health factors that could explain their illnesses, including obesity, diet, and family history. The company also said that there was no credible evidence that PCBs caused the diseases and that diabetes and arthritis are common as people get older. The plaintiffs claimed they got sick because of exposure to excess PCBs that were released by the Anniston facility into waterways and onto land. About 3,000 people have filed similar lawsuits and are awaiting trial.

 
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