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Persistent bioaccumulative toxicants (PBTs), also known as persistent environmental contaminants, persistent pollutants, or persistent toxic chemicals, are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. They have been observed to persist in the environment, be capable of long-range transport, bioaccumulate in human and animal tissue, biomagnify in food chains, and have potential significant impacts on human health and the environment.

Persistent Environmental Contaminants

Name: Persistent Environmental Contaminant,

Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicant (PBT), or Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP)

Use: varies, often restricted or banned (but still present in the environment)

Source: industry, waste sites, food chain, and environment

Toxicity/symptoms: range of toxic effects including developmental, learning and memory, and cancer

Regulatory facts: various local, national, and international agencies working to eliminate or greatly reduce

General facts: long history of use, bioaccumulates

Environment: global environmental contaminants

Recommendations: avoid, reduce use

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PBT News from *Environmental Health News*

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Teaching Resources

External Links


Wargo, John. Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us from Pesticides. Yale University Press, 2nd edition, (New Haven: 1998).

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring Houghton Mifflin (Boston: 1994), 368 pages.

Atkin, J. and Klaus M. Leisinger, eds. Safe and Effective Use of Crop Protection Products in Developing Countries. CABI Publishing, CAB International. (2000). 163 pages.

Schmitt, C.J., and C.M. Bunck. "Persistent Environmental Contaminants in Fish and Wildlife." Retrieved from National Biological Service Website. Accessed on 3-19-2007.