Sources of Airborne PCBs in Schools, Homes, and Cities

Friday, Sept. 24, 3:00 p.m.
Dr. Keri Hornbuckle
University of Iowa


Because of the effectiveness of the the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are often called “legacy” pollutants. Unfortunately, the assumption that PCBs are no longer used is incorrect. Although PCBs were banned from sale, they were not banned from use. PCBs are still in use throughout the country. Furthermore, the assumption that PCBs are no longer produced is also incorrect. PCBs are produced as unintentional byproducts in many industrial processes. As a result, PCBs are found in some common household products. Their continued use and ongoing production explain the high concentrations of PCBs in the air of schools, homes and cities. Emissions of PCBs within schools presents a major exposure risk and inhalation is the now the largest exposure route of these toxic compounds for many children. School air is often even more contaminated than major cities and higher than outdoor air near major PCB Superfund sites like New Bedford Harbor, Fox River Wisconsin, and Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal Lake Michigan. The study of airborne PCB emissions builds on the ground-breaking if the late UMN Professor Deb Swackhamer. Hornbuckle was a long-time collaborator of Prof. Deb Swackhamer. Like Deb, Keri earned a chemistry degree from Grinnell College and studied the fate, transport, and implications of toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes. Deb was an important advisor and committee member for Keri’s Ph.D. from the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geoengineering at the University of Minnesota.

About Dr. Hornbuckle

Keri Hornbuckle is the Donald E. Bently Professor of Engineering and Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering. She is a Research Engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health and serves as on the faculty of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology, all at the University of Iowa. She is the Director of the Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP), a P42 multi-project interdisciplinary research center funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH) and titled “Sources, Exposures, Toxicities, and Remediation of Airborne PCBs.” In addition to the ISRP, Hornbuckle’s research is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. Prof. Hornbuckle is a past President of the International Association for Great Lakes Research and is Associate Editor of the American Chemical Society journals: Environmental Science & Technology and ACS Environmental AU.