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Wednesday, 8 December 1976
Page: 3556

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(   1 ) What action is being taken to protect Australians from the dangers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

(2)   Where are these manufactured or formulated in Australia.

(3)   Can he say whether the United States of America is to ban the manufacture of PCBs within 3 years.

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The importation and end-use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), terphenyls and polyphenyls, and products containing those substances, are controlled under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.

Since 1972 the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) an advisory body to States and Territories, has made a series of recommendations on PCBs relating to their usage, waste disposal, their existence in certain microscope immersion oils used in laboratories, precautions necessary when used in totally enclosed systems, and poisons scheduling limitations.

The Australian Environment Council has also expressed concern over these substances and has made several recommendations regarding importation and disposal of PCBs.

PCBs are therefore presently controlled at the point of entry, and through adoption of NH&MRC recommendations by State legislation. In the longer term they will largely cease to be available as the major manufacturer and distributor, the U.S.A., phases out their manufacture.

(2)   PCBs are not manufactured or formulated in Australia.

(3)   Yes. The U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act, effective from 1 January 1977, outlines action to be taken in respect of PCBs. From January, 1978 no person may manufacture, process or distribute in commerce or use any PCB in any manner other than in a totally enclosed manner. From 1 January 1979 no person may manufacture any PCBs and from 1 July 1979 no person may process or distribute any PCBs in commerce.

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