PCBs: Polychlorinated biphenyls
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PCBs were first manufactured in 1929 by the Swann Chemical Co. (later purchased by Monsanto Industrial Chemicals Co. in 1935). General Electric soon began a line of products that used PCBs. Between 1946 and 1977 GE has dumped about 1.3 million pounds (estimated) of PCBs into the Hudson River. In 1972 the Clean Water Act was passed; requiring treatment and minimization of industrial discharges.

PCBs were eventually banned in the entire United States in 1977.

A year earlier, in 1976, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation banned the commercial harvest of nearly every one of the Hudon River's commercial fish which includes striped bass, eel, carp, catfish, and perch.

In 1983 the 200-miles of the Hudson River, from Hudson Falls to the Battery in New York City, was classified as a Superfund site under the Superfund law. By this law, the party responsible for the pollution must pay for any cleanup required, regardless of any permits they may have had during the polluting. General Electric is now responsible for the cleanup of this area because of their dumping of PCBs.

In Johannesburg in December 2000, 122 nations drafted the international treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants which named PCBs as one of the "dirty dozen" chemicals targeted to be phased out of use.