Thursday, October 11, 2012

What are PoPs ?


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. This group of priority pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans).
Persistent Organic Pollutants are transported across international boundaries far from their sources, even to regions where they have never been used or produced. The ecosystems and indigenous people of the Arctic are particularly at risk because of the long-range environmental transportation and bio-magnification of these substances. Consequently, persistent organic pollutants pose a threat to the environment and to human health all over the globe.

What is the Stockholm Conference ?

  • 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, and have adverse effects to human health or to the environment. 
  • Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and even diminished intelligence.  
  • Given their long range transport, no one government acting alone can protect is citizens or its environment from POPs.  In response to this global problem, the Stockholm Convention, which was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment.  
  • The Convention is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

What are  “Dirty Dozens” ?

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants identified an initial twelve chemicals or chemical groups for priority action.
Chemical or Class
AldrinPesticide widely used on corn and cotton until 1970. EPA allowed its use for termites until manufacturer cancelled registration in 1987. Closely related to dieldrin.
ChlordanePesticide on agricultural crops, lawns, and gardens and a fumigant for termite control. All uses were banned in the United States in 1988 but still produced for export.
DDTPesticide still used for malaria control in the tropics. Banned for all but emergency uses in the United States in 1972.
DieldrinPesticide widely used on corn and cotton until 1970. EPA allowed its use for termites until manufacturer cancelled registration in 1987. A breakdown product of aldrin.
EndrinUsed as a pesticide to control insects, rodents, and birds. Not produced or sold for general use in the United States since 1986.
HeptachlorInsecticide in household and agricultural uses until 1988. Also a component and a breakdown product of chlordane.
HexachlorobenzenePesticide and fungicide used on seeds, also an industrial byproduct. Not widely used in the United States since 1965.
MirexInsecticide and flame retardant not used or manufactured in the United States since 1978.
ToxapheneInsecticide used primarily on cotton. Most uses in the U.S. were banned in 1982, and all uses in 1990.
PCBsPolychlorinated biphenyls, widely used in electrical equipment and other uses. Manufacture of PCBs banned in the United States in 1977.
Two notorious classes of “unintentional” pollutants, byproducts of incineration and industrial processes. Regulated in the United States under air, water, food quality, occupational safety, waste, and other statutes.


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