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Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants


In 1995, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) called for global action to be taken on POPs, which it defined as “chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment”.

Following this, the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) and the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) prepared an assessment of the 12 worst offenders, known as the dirty dozen.

The INC met five times between June 1998 and December 2000 to elaborate the convention, and delegates adopted the Stockholm Convention on POPs at the Conference of the Plenipotentiaries convened from 22–23 May 2001 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The negotiations for the Convention were completed on 23 May 2001 in Stockholm. The convention entered into force on 17 May 2004 with ratification by an initial 128 parties and 151 signatories. Co-signatories agree to outlaw nine of the dirty dozen chemicals, limit the use of DDT to malaria control, and curtail inadvertent production of dioxins and furans.

Parties to the convention have agreed to a process by which persistent toxic compounds can be reviewed and added to the convention, if they meet certain criteria for persistence and transboundary threat. The first set of new chemicals to be added to the Convention were agreed at a conference in Geneva on 8 May 2009.

As of June 2018, there are 182 parties to the Convention, (181 states and the European Union).[1] Notable non-ratifying states include the United States, Israel, Malaysia, and Italy.

The Stockholm Convention was adopted to EU legislation in REGULATION (EC) No 850/2004.[2]

Summary of provisions

Key elements of the Convention include the requirement that developed countries provide new and additional financial resources and measures to eliminate production and use of intentionally produced POPs, eliminate unintentionally produced POPs where feasible, and manage and dispose of POPs wastes in an environmentally sound manner. Precaution is exercised throughout the Stockholm Convention, with specific references in the preamble, the objective, and the provision on identifying new POPs.

Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee

When adopting the Convention, provision was made for a procedure to identify additional POPs and the criteria to be considered in doing so. At the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP1), held in Punta del Este, Uruguay from 2–6 May 2005, the POPRC was established to consider additional candidates nominated for listing under the Convention.

The Committee is composed of 31 experts nominated by parties from the five United Nations regional groups and reviews nominated chemicals in three stages. The Committee first determines whether the substance fulfills POP screening criteria detailed in Annex D of the Convention, relating to its persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport (LRET), and toxicity. If a substance is deemed to fulfill these requirements, the Committee then drafts a risk profile according to Annex E to evaluate whether the substance is likely, as a result of its LRET, to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects and therefore warrants global action. Finally, if the POPRC finds that global action is warranted, it develops a risk management evaluation, according to Annex F, reflecting socioeconomic considerations associated with possible control measures. Based on this, the POPRC decides to recommend that the COP list the substance under one or more of the annexes to the Convention. The POPRC has met annually in Geneva, Switzerland since its establishment.

The seventh meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-7) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) took place from 10–14 October 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland. POPRC-8 was held from 15–19 October 2012 in Geneva, POPRC-9 to POPRC-13 were held in Rome.

Listed substances

There were initially twelve distinct chemicals listed in three categories. Two chemicals, hexachlorobenzene and polychlorinated biphenyls, were listed in both categories A and C.[3]

Annex Name CAS Number Exemptions
A. Elimination Aldrin 309-00-2 Production none
Use as a local ectoparasiticide and insecticide
A. Elimination Chlordane 57-74-9 Production by registered parties
Use as a local ectoparasiticide, insecticide, termiticide (including in buildings, dams and roads) and as an additive in plywood adhesives
A. Elimination Dieldrin 60-57-1 Production none
Use in agricultural operations
A. Elimination Endrin 72-20-8 None
A. Elimination Heptachlor 76-44-8 Production none
Use as a termiticide (including in the structure of houses and underground), for organic treatment and in underground cable boxes
A. Elimination Hexachlorobenzene 118-74-1 Production by registered parties
Use as a chemical intermediate and a solvent for pesticides
A. Elimination Mirex 2385-85-5 Production by registered parties
Use as a termiticide
A. Elimination Toxaphene 8001-35-2 None
A. Elimination Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) various Production none
Use in accordance with part II of Annex A
B. Restriction DDT 50-29-3 Disease vector control in accordance with Part II of Annex B
Production and use as an intermediate in the production of dicofol and other compounds
C. Unintentional Production Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins ("dioxins") and polychlorinated dibenzofurans various  
C. Unintentional Production Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) various  
C. Unintentional Production Hexachlorobenzene 118-74-1  
Added by the Fourth Conference of Parties, May 2009
These modifications have come into force on 26 August 2010, except for countries that submit a notification pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 3(b) of Article 22.[4] Some of the compounds are brominated flame retardants.
Annex Name CAS Number Exemptions
A. Elimination α-Hexachlorocyclohexane 319-84-6 None
A. Elimination β-Hexachlorocyclohexane 319-85-7 None
A. Elimination Chlordecone 143-50-0 None
A. Elimination Hexabromobiphenyl 36355-01-8 None
A. Elimination Hexabromodiphenyl ether
and heptabromodiphenyl ether
various Production none
Use recycling and reuse of articles containing these compounds
A. Elimination Lindane (gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane ) 58-89-9 Production none
Use Human health pharmaceutical for control of head lice and scabies as second line treatment
A. Elimination & C. Unintentional Production Pentachlorobenzene 608-93-5 None
A. Elimination Tetrabromodiphenyl ether
and pentabromodiphenyl ether
various Production none
Use recycling and reuse of articles containing these compounds
B. Restriction Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctanesulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF) various Production for permitted uses
Use various uses specified in part III of Annex B
Added by the Fifth Conference of Parties, May 2011
Annex Name CAS Number Exemptions
A. Elimination Endosulfan 115-29-7 
Production As allowed for the parties listed in the Register of specific exemptions
Use Crop-pest complexes as listed in accordance with the provisions of part VI of Annex A.
Added by the Sixth Conference of Parties, April–May 2013
These modifications has come into force on 26 November 2014, except for countries that submit a notification pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 3(b) of Article 22.[5]
Annex Name CAS Number Exemptions
A. Elimination Hexabromocyclododecane 25637-99-4 
Production As allowed for the parties listed in the Register in accordance with the provisions of Part VII of this Annex
Use Expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings in accordance with the provisions of Part VII of this Annex.[6]
Added by the Seventh Conference of Parties (Triple Conference of Parties) in May 2015[7][8]
Annex Name CAS Number Exemptions
A. Elimination Hexachlorobutadiene 87-68-3 None
A. Elimination Polychlorinated naphthalenes   Intermediates in the production of polyfluorinated naphthalenes, including octafluoronaphthalene
A. Elimination Pentachlorophenol, and its salts and esters   Production: in accordance with the provisions of Part VIII of this Annex

Use: Utility poles and cross-arms in accordance with the provisions of Part VIII of this Annex

Chemicals newly proposed for inclusion in Annexes A,B,C

POPRC-7 considered three proposals for listing in Annexes A, B and/or C of the Convention: chlorinated naphthalenes (CNs), hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and pentachlorophenol (PCP), its salts and esters. The proposal is the first stage of the POPRC's work in assessing a substance, and requires the POPRC to assess whether the proposed chemical satisfies the criteria in Annex D of the Convention. The criteria for forwarding a proposed chemical to the risk profile preparation stage are persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport (LRET), and adverse effects.

POPRC-8 proposed hexabromocyclododecane for listing in Annex A, with specific exemptions for production and use in expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings. This proposal was agreed at the sixth Conference of Parties on 28 April-10 May 2013.[9][10]

POPRC-9 proposed di-,tri-,tetra-,penta-,hexa-, hepta- and octa-chlorinated napthalenes, and hexachlorobutadiene for listing in Annexes A and C. It also set up further work on pentachlorophenol, its salts and esters, and decabromodiphenyl ether, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl chloride.[11]


Although some critics have alleged that the treaty is responsible for the continuing death toll from malaria, in reality the treaty specifically permits the public health use of DDT for the control of mosquitoes (the malaria vector).[12][13][14][15] There are also ways to prevent high amounts of DDT consumed by using other malaria vectors such as window screens. As long as there are specific measures taken, such as use of DDT indoors, then the limited amount of DDT can be used in a regulated fashion.[16] From a developing country perspective, a lack of data and information about the sources, releases, and environmental levels of POPs hampers negotiations on specific compounds, and indicates a strong need for research.[17][18]

Another controversy would be certain POPs (which are continually active, specifically in the Arctic Biota) that were mentioned in the Stockholm Convention, but were not part of the Dirty Dozen such as Perfluorooctone sulfonates (PFOs).[19] PFOs have many general uses such as stain repellents but have many properties which can make it a dangerous due to the fact that PFOs can be highly resistant to environmental breakdown. PFOs can be toxic in terms of increased offspring death, decrease in body weight, and the disruption of neurological systems. What makes this compound controversial is the economic and political impact it can have among various countries and businesses.[20]

Related conventions and other ongoing negotiations regarding pollution

Ongoing negotiations

  • Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee's work towards a Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury
    • Can be effectively addressed cross governmental scale by:
      • Having a clearly defined global goal to the standards of mercury
      • all governments must tackle the issue following along the same lines
      • and implementing capacity levels for buildings on the mercury emission use[21]
  • Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS)
  • Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)


Jump up to:a b c United Nations Treaty Collection: CHAPTER XXVII – ENVIRONMENT – 15. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

  1. ^ "REGULATION (EC) No 850/2004 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 29 April 2004 on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117/EEC". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  2. ^ Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention. "Measures to reduce or eliminate POPs" (PDF). Geneva. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  3. ^ Depostary notification (PDF), Secretary-General of the United Nations, 26 August 2009, retrieved 2009-12-17.
  4. ^ .
  5. ^ Part VII provides "Each Party that has registered for the exemption pursuant to Article 4 for the production and use of hexabromocyclododecane for expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene in buildings shall take necessary measures to ensure that expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene containing hexabromocyclododecane can be easily identified by labelling or other means throughout its life cycle."
  6. ^ Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions: Countries move forward on important issues for sustainable management of chemicals and waste, Press release 16 May 2015.
  7. ^ ChemicalWatch, Emma Chynoweth: Three substances banned under POPs convention, 18 May 2015.
  8. ^ Convention, Stockholm. "HBCD Recommendation". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Convention, Stockholm. "Stockholm Convention > The Convention > POPs Review Committee > Meetings > POPRC 9 > Documents". Retrieved 12 April2018.
  11. ^ Curtis, C. F. (2002), "Should the use of DDT be revived for malaria vector control?", Biomedica, 22 (4): 455–61, PMID 12596442.
  12. ^ 10 Things You Need to Know about DDT Use under The Stockholm Convention (PDF), World Health Organization, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  13. ^ Bouwman, H. (2003), "POPs in southern Africa", Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Vol. 3O: Persistent Organic Pollutants, pp. 297–320, archived from the original on 10 October 2007.
  14. ^ Ashley K. Martin (2008), "The Regulation of DDT: A Choice Between Evils", Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, 41: 677, archived from the original on 1 February 2014
  15. ^ World Health Organization. Global Malaria Programme (2011). "The use of DDT in malaria vector control : WHO position statement". Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  16. ^ Bouwman, H. (2004), "South Africa and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants", S. Afr. J. Sci., 100 (7/8): 323–28
  17. ^ Porta M.; Zumeta E (2002). "Implementing the Stockholm treaty on POPs [Editorial]" (PDF). Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 59: 651–652. doi:10.1136/oem.59.10.651. PMC 1740221. PMID 12356922.
  18. ^ Godduhn, Anna; Duffy, Lawrence K. (August 2003). "Multi-generation health risks of persistent organic pollution in the far north: use of the precautionary approach in the Stockholm Convention". Environmental Science and Policy. 6 (4): 341–353.
  19. ^ Thanh Wang, Yawei Wang, Chunyang Liao, Yaqi Cai and Guibin Jiang. "Perspectives on the Inclusion of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate into the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants." State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing: Environ. Sci. Technol., 2009, 43 (14), pp 5171–5175. DOI: 10.1021/es900464a.
  20. ^ Selin, Noelle Eckley and Henrik (2006). "Global Politics of Mercury Pollution: The need for Multi-Scale Governance". Review of European Community and International Environmental Law. 15 (3). ISSN 0962-8797.

Further reading

  • Chasek, Pam, David L. Downie, and J.W. Brown (2013). Global Environmental Politics, 6th Edition, Boulder: Westview Press.
  • Downie, David (2003). "Global POPs Policy: The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants", in D. Downie and T. Fenge (ed.) Northern Lights against POPs: Combating Toxic Threats in the Arctic, Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
  • Downie, David and Terry Fenge (2003). Northern Lights against POPs: Combating Toxic Threats in the Arctic, Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
  • Downie, D., Krueger, J. and Selin, H. (2005). "Global Policy for Toxic Chemicals", in R. Axelrod, D. Downie and N. Vig (eds.) The Global Environment: Institutions, Law & Policy, 2nd Edition, Washington: CQ Press.
  • Downie, David and Jessica Templeton (2013). "Persistent Organic Pollutants." The Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics. New York: Routledge.
  • Eckley N. And Selin (2003). "Science, Politics, and Persistent Organic Pollutants: Scientific Assessments and Their Role in International Environmental Negotiations". International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 3 (1): 17–42.
  • Kohler P.; Ashton M. (2010). "Paying for POPs: Negotiating the Implementation of the Stockholm Convention in Developing Countries". International Negotiation. 15: 459–484. doi:10.1163/157180610x529636.
  • Selin, H. (2010). Global Governance of Hazardous Chemicals: Challenges of Multilevel Management, Cambridge: The MIT Press.

External links

About the author

Dr. Howard Dryden

Dr. Howard Dryden

Dr. Dryden has unique knowledge combination of biology, chemistry and technology and is the inventor of the activated, bio-resistant filter media AFM®. Dr. Dryden is one of the world`s leading experts in sustainable water treatment.

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