What is POP?
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are primal and secondary industrial products. They include a group of extremely persistent synthetic substances used as pesticides in agriculture or released into the environment as byproducts. Some of them are widely used in various areas of activity of the modern society (agriculture, food production, medicine, packaging and toys production, etc.). Even small concentrations of POPs are highly toxic.
POPs cause a global environmental problem due to their resistance to degradation, ability to travel in various directions far beyond their place of origin and to be accumulated in tissues of the majority of life forms hence contaminating humans and wildlife.
To reduce the risks associated with their negative impact on the environment and humans it is necessary to ban production and use of these dangerous chemicals. However, it has to be remembered that some POPs continue to play an important role in the economy of many countries. Therefore, it is crucial to find alternative nontoxic substances before completely discontinuing use of POPs which will help solve the emerging issues without hampering the social and economic development.
With a view to banning the production of POPs and eliminating their stockpiles and sources, the international community adopted the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. It lists 12 most dangerous POPs as well as provides for mechanisms to prevent their damaging effects. Nine out of twelve POPs are chlorine-containing pesticides (aldrin, dieldrin, chlordane, DDT, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene). The rest are industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins and furan). This list is far from being complete. New substances may be added when new data becomes available.
At its 4th meeting held on 4-8 May 2009 in Geneva the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention adopted amendments to Annex A, B and C to list new chemicals as persistent organic pollutants (chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl, pentachlorobenzene, lindane, alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, tetrabromodiphenyl ether, pentabromodiphenyl ether,�hexabromodiphenyl ether, heptabromodiphenyl ether, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride.
It was decided to add chlorodecone, hexabromobiphenyl, alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane to Annex A of the Stockholm Convention; pentachlorobenzene to Annex C; lindane to Annex A (its use is permitted in pharmaceutical production).Pentabromodiphenyl ether and octabromodiphenyl ether also made the lists of the Stockholm Convention. The recycling and export of products containing these substances is permitted until 2030.