How to Use This Course


The goal of ATSDR’s CSEM is to increase the primary health care provider’s knowledge of hazardous substances in the environment and to help evaluate and treat potentially exposed patients. This CSEM focuses on PCB toxicity.


Two versions of the PCB toxicity CSEM are available.


To make the most effective use of this course:

  • Take the Initial Check to assess your current knowledge about PCB toxicity.
  • Read the title, learning objectives, text, and key points in each section.
  • Complete the progress check exercises at the end of each section and check your answers.
  • Complete and submit your assessment and posttest response online if you wish to obtain free continuing education credit. You can print your continuing education certificates immediately upon completion.
Instructional Format

This course is designed to help you learn efficiently. Topics are clearly labeled so that you can skip or quickly scan sections with which you are already familiar. This labeling will also allow you to use this training material as a handy reference. To help you identify and absorb important content quickly, each section is structured in the following format.

instructional format
Section Element Purpose
Title Serves as a “focus question” that you should be able to answer after completing the section.
Learning Objectives Describes specific content addressed in each section and focuses your attention on important points.
Text Provides the information you need to answer the progress check question(s) and achieve the learning objectives.
Key Points Highlights important issues and helps you review.
Progress Check exercises Enables you to test yourself to determine whether you exercises have mastered the learning objectives.
 Progress Check answers Provide feedback to ensure you understand the content and can locate information in the text.
Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the PCBs toxicity CSEM, you will be able to meet the objectives as outlined.

Learning objectives
Content Area Objectives
  • Describe key characteristics of PCBs
Exposure Pathways
  • Identify sources of exposure to PCBs
  • Identify routes of exposure to PCBs
Who is at Risk
  • Identify who is at risk for exposure to PCBs
Standards and Regulations
  • Identify EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PCBs in drinking water
  • Identify FDA’s tolerance levels for PCBs in food
Biological Fate
  • Describe characteristics of the metabolism of PCBs in the body
 Health Effects
  • Describe adverse health effects associated with exposure to PCBs
Clinical Assessment
  • Describe characteristic findings on clinical assessment of patients exposed to PCBs
  • Describe a rational approach for evaluating a patient with a history of occupational or environmental exposure, or both, to PCBs
  • Describe measurements that can help diagnose exposure to PCBs
Treatment and Management
  • Describe the principal treatment strategy for managing PCB poisoning
  • Describe the measures for preventing occupational and environmental exposure to PCBs
Patient Education and Counseling
  • Describe instructions appropriate for patients exposed to PCBs