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Proposal to tighten limits for POPs

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  • Published
    18th Jan, 2022


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.

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