The colour yellow isn't one that usually elicits fear. But according to a new unpublished study, potential dangers could be lurking in some of the brightly coloured items found in our homes, such as rubber gloves and notepads.

Polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of chemicals commonly known as PCBs, have been banned in Canada and the United States since the mid-1970s. But new research shows that PCB-11, a form of the chemical linked to yellow dyes, inks and paints, is leaching into people's bloodstream, air and waterways.

"It's out there in levels that are worrisome," senior author of the study Lisa Rodenburg told Environmental Health News.

"Even at the parts per billion levels, if you find it in almost everything you test, that means people are in almost constant contact," Rodenburg said.

An associate professor of environmental chemistry at Rutgers University, Rodenburg has detected PCB-11 in nearly all samples of paper products sold in 26 countries and clothing sold in the United States.

In the U.S., because PCB-11 is considered an unintentional byproduct of pigment manufacturing, the chemical is exempt from laws that regulate PCBs.

While little is known about the effects of exposure to traces of PCB-11, some evidence shows that long-term, high-level exposure to PCBs in general is linked to various forms of cancer, particularly those of the kidney and liver.

Long-term low-level exposures to PCBs may affect the development of newborns and young children.

The potential health effects from exposure to PCB-11 are still unknown, but some health officials in the U.S. are sounding the alarm.

"If they are in the air and one breathes them in every day, there will be continuous exposure to what I suspect are very toxic substances," Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albay-SUNY, told Environmental Health News.