Chloracne Caused by PCBs
Polychlorinated Biphenyls, more commonly known as PCBs, are a class of man-made chemical that has previously been used in industrial production process and in the manufacturing of herbicides by agricultural companies such as Monsanto. PCBs are known to pose serious health risks to those exposed, including respiratory issues, organ failure, cancer, and neurological conditions. Additionally, those exposed by either direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation may develop an acne-like skin rash known as chloracne.
Chloracne is the acne like eruption of blackheads, cysts, and pustules on the skin caused by over-exposure to chloracnegens, a group of halogenated aromatic compounds including PCBs. The condition is oven irritating or even painful, and is most common on the cheeks, behind the ears, under the armpits, and in the groin area.
PCBs are fat soluble, and remain in the body for an extended period of time. Consequently, reactions to PCBs may persist long after exposure to the toxin ends. Although chloracne may be treated with the use of oral antibiotics, it is often highly resistant to any form of treatment.
The condition was first discovered in German Industrial workers in 1897, and affected 226 workers when a container of herbicide exploded at a Monsanto Plant in Virginia.
Use of toxic Monsanto PCBs in industrial or chemical manufacturing processes was banned in 1978 once the dangers of the toxin were discovered. However, Monsanto products manufactured before this date continue to dump toxic contaminants into the air and the environment.
Although chloracne in itself is not life-threatening, it is a signal that the individual may have been exposed to PCBs, which are known to be linked with a number of more serious health complications. It is always important to know the risks associated with PCB exposure and monitor associated symptoms.