‘Ratification of 7 Persistent Organic Pollutants’

Context

The Union Cabinet has approved the Ratification of seven (7) chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Background

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had notified the 'Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules, on March 5, 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, for providing safe environment and addressing human health risks.
  • The regulation prohibits the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals namely
  1. Chlordecone
  2. Hexabromobiphenyl
  3. Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE)
  4. Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE)
  5. Pentachlorobenzene
  6. Hexabromocyclododecane
  7. Hexachlorobutadiene

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

  • POPs are identified chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate in living organisms, adversely affect human health/ environment and have the property of long-range environmental transport (LRET).
  • POPs bio-magnify throughout the food chain and bio-accumulate in organisms. The highest concentrations of POPs are thus found in organisms at the top of the food chain.
  • Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central & peripheral nervous systems, diseases of immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development.
  • POPs are listed in various Annexes to the Stockholm Convention after thorough scientific research, deliberations and negotiations among member countries.

Stockholm Convention

  • The Stockholm Convention was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004.
  • 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.
  • The objective of the Stockholm Convention is to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants.
  • India had ratified the Stockholm Convention on January 13, 2006.
  • Initially, twelve POPs have been recognized as causing adverse effects on humans and the ecosystem and these can be placed in 3 categories:
    1. Pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene
    2. Industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
    3. By-products: hexachlorobenzene; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF), and PCBs.
  • The POPs list has been further amended to include some new POPs under the Stockholm Convention.

Significance for India

  • The Cabinet's approval for ratification of POPs demonstrates India's commitment to meet its international obligations with regard to protection of environment and human health.
  • It indicates the resolve of the Government to take action on POPs by implementing control measures, develop and implement action plans for unintentionally produced chemicals, develop inventories of the chemicals' stockpiles and review as well as update its National Implementation Plan (NIP).
  • The ratification process would enable India to access Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources in updating the NIP.

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