Toxic concrete

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

SWEDES are at risk from toxic chemicals leaking out of old concrete towers, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in soil close to a block of flats in capital Stockholm have been found to be 20 times higher than the country's safety limit and 1,000 times the normal levels. These toxic chemicals can harm the immune and reproductive systems, hamper mental development in children and may even cause cancer.

PCBs had been widely used in sealing material for filling the gaps between concrete blocks in buildings until 1973, when their use began to be restricted; they were totally banned across Europe in 1986. They were believed to have been released in buildings that were being renovated or demolished. The recent discovery by SEPA that they are continuously leaking out has set the alarm bells ringing across Europe. The agency has recommended an urgent inspection of concrete buildings in Sweden and the immediate disposal of all sealing material containing more than one per cent of PCBs.

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