- Last Updated on Monday, 10 December 2012 15:23
Associated topic: persistent organic pollutants
Emissions monitoring period: since 1990
Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2012
Sources of the pollutant
Polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) are produced by human activities and particularly by electric steelmaking plants, biomass combustion and waste incineration.
Effect of the pollutant
Exposure to PCBs in high doses (accidental releases, workplace activities) can cause skin and eye disorders. PCBs are classified as endocrine disruptors and probable carcinogens; effects have been reported on respiratory, gastro-intestinal, kidney and endocrine functions. PCBs also have neurotoxic effects.
Classification of sub-sectors* with the highest emission levels
|Classification||Sub-sectors||Share of sub-sector in total national emissions in mainland France (%)|
|1||Ferrous metals production||41|
|including:||Electric steel mills||36|
*: one sector out of six (energy transformation, manufacturing industry, residential/tertiary, agriculture/forestry, road transport and other transport) is broken down into sub-sectors.
Emissions and trends
|Minimum observed:||58 kg in 2009|
|Maximum observed:||180 kg in 1993|
|Emissions in 2010:||59 kg|
Measurement unit: kg (kilogramme)
N.B. : emissions include those from combustion and from processes.
PCB emissions in 2010 in mainland France are estimated at 59 kg.
Three sectors contribute significantly to PCB emissions; contributions in the other sectors are low and sometimes nil, as in road transport. These sectors are as follows, in order of importance:
- manufacturing industry: 54%, particularly from the ferrous metals sub-sector,
- residential/tertiary sector: 24%, mainly due to energy consumption,
- energy transformation: 22%, from household waste incineration plants with energy recovery (WTE),
- agriculture/forestry and transport other than by road contribute less than 1% of the national total (both sectors taken together).
The breakdown has changed since 1990, but the manufacturing industry still produces by far the largest share of the national total, with 74%.
From 1990 to 2010, PCB emissions from the manufacturing sector dropped substantially (-120 kg, -i.e. 67%). This drop was observed in all the main sectors concerned but more particularly in the manufacturing industry.
In the manufacturing industry sector, the 76% drop in emissions (-101 kg) from 1990 to 2010 may be attributed to a) hazardous industrial waste treatment plants (Ministerial Order of 20 September 2002 on hazardous waste) and b) lower quantities of medical waste incinerated and compliance with standards following implementation of the Ministerial Order of 20 September 2002 on non-hazardous waste. In 2008-2009, emissions dropped by almost 21% following the drop in production from electric steelmaking plants.
In the energy transformation sector, emissions are mainly from electricity production (84.7% of emissions from the sector as a whole in 2010). Since 1990, emissions from this sector have dropped by 52% (-14 kg), in particular with the introduction of flue gas treatment in WTE plants, in order to comply with the new limit values for PCDD-F set out in the Ministerial Order of 20 September 2002 (Directive 2000/76/EC), which has also affected PCB emissions.
In the residential/tertiary sector, emissions are mainly from the residential sub-sector (86.5% of emissions from the sector in 2010). Emissions fell by 26% from 1990 to 2010 as a result of declining coal consumption.
Reducing toxic substances is a priority in the 2nd French National Health and Environment Plan (2009-2013) (PNSE 2) published in July 2009. In particular, PCB emissions must be reduced by 30% from 2009 to 2013.