The European Commission has recently proposed to tighten limits for a range of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to tackle contamination in recycled products, health and environment.
What are POPs?
- Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are organic chemical substances, that is, they are carbon-based.
- They possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that, once released into the environment, they:
- remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years)
- become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air
- accumulate in the living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain
- are toxic to both humans and wildlife
Stockholm Convention on POPs
- The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that:
- remain intact in the environment for long periods
- become widely distributed geographically
- accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife
- have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment
- It sets up a system for tackling additional chemicals identified as unacceptably hazardous.
- The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is the designated interim financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention.
- Aim: The Stockholm Convention is perhaps best understood as having five essential aims:
- Eliminate dangerous POPs, starting with the 12 worst
- Support the transition to safer alternatives
- Target additional POPs for action
- Cleanup old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs
- Work together for a POPs-free future
Other important Convention
- The Basel Convention on Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992.
- The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure (PIC) for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade was adopted in 1998 and entered into force in 2004.