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Stockholm Agreement

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effect of certain substances. These chemicals have the following characteristics:

  • Persistence: They remain intact in the environment for very long periods.
  • Volatility: They can travel long distances and reach regions where they have not being used or produced.
  • Bioaccumulation: They incorporate in fatty tissues of living organisms.
  • High toxicity.

Human exposure to POPs can lead into serious health effects, including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctions in the immune and reproductive systems, increased susceptibility to disease and even diminished intelligence. The International Community and more specifically the United Nations, has generated important tools to regulate and control POPs. The most ambitious one is the Stockholm Convention, which was adopted on 22nd May 2001, and entered into force on 17th May 2004, requiring the Parties to take necessary measures to eliminate and reduce the emissions of POPs into the environment.

The Stockholm Convention started regulating the following twelve POPs:

  • Pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene;
  • Industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
  • By-products: hexachlorobenzene; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF), and PCBs.

During the last Conference of the Parties held in Geneva, from 4-8th May 2009, it was adopted the decisions SC-4/10 to SC-4/18 for the ammendment of the annexes A, B and C of the Convention by the inclusion of nine new chemicals: 

  • Pesticides: chlordecone, alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, pentachlorobenzene;
  • Industrial chemicals:  hexabromobiphenyl, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, pentachlorobenzene, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether; and
  • By-products: alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane and pentachlorobenzene.
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