According to the spokesperson for the city's Public Services, the origin of the contamination by PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) is found in products such as paints, hydraulic fluids, sealants or inks, which the agrochemical giant has sold to the population for decades.
Although Monsanto now focuses on industrial and transgenic agriculture, between 1935 and 1979 it was the only producer of PCBs in the US. He created the toxic product Aroclor as a refrigerant for electrical transformers, but it was eventually used in numerous household products such as varnishes, lacquers or pool covers.
According to the lawsuit filed, the company knew that PCBs were toxic to the environment and human health while manufacturing them, but withheld it from the Administration until they were banned in 1979. Spokane joins other cities, such as San Diego or San José, in the petition to Monsanto for compensation for the damage caused and to cover the costs of cleaning up its ecosystems. Of course, Monsanto claims that the responsibility rests with the companies that have misplaced PCB waste.
PCBs are hormonal pollutants, also called endocrine disruptors (EDCs). That is, very small amounts, such as those that may remain in the environment, seriously affect the development of the endocrine system, mimicking estrogens. They also affect fertility, neurological and immune development and are related to breast, testicular and thyroid cancers. The most vulnerable stages of exposure are prenatal and postnatal, although the effects can occur many years later and even in future generations.
For all the above, it is essential that these toxins are removed from the environment. In Spain, according to the presentation by Dolores Romano, from Ecologists in Action, at the IX International Conference on Endocrine Disruptors last June, the deadlines for eliminating PCBs set by RD1378 / 1999 are not being met and there are currently close to 5,000 tons of PCBs in open uses, such as paints, resins or window sealants, not counting the amount that may exist in small electrical appliances. It seems that we still have to go a long way to achieve compliance with the Stockholm Convention in the fight against persistent organic pollutants, POPs, to reach the level of countries like Norway, an example at the international level.