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The Stockholm Convention

The "Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)" was adopted in 2001 and became international law in May 2004. The convention is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs, which are highly toxic chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, resisting bio-degradation, and thus becoming widely distributed geographically, accumulating in the fatty tissues of living organisms and causing toxicity in humans and wildlife. The Convention seeks the elimination or restriction of production and use of all intentionally produced POPs, as well as the continuing minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination of releases of unintentionally produced POPs.

Twelve organochlorine compounds were initially listed as POPs under the Convention in 2004, including the pesticides aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, hexachlorobenzene, and toxaphene; the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and the dioxins and furans (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins or PCDDs, and polychlorinated dibenzofurans or PCDFs). An additional 9 POPs were added to the list in 2009, including lindane (insecticide with broad applications such as seed, soil and wood treatment, has toxic effects in laboratory animals and aquatic organisms; can be used as a human health pharmaceutical to treat head lice and scabies), alpha hexachlorocyclohexane and beta hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticides, by-products of lindane manufacture, potentially carcinogenic to humans and adversely affects wildlife), chlordecone (a pesticide, classified as a possible human carcinogen, is very toxic to aquatic organisms), hexabromobiphenyl (industrial chemical, used as a flame retardant, classified as a possible human carcinogen), tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether (industrial chemical, used as an additive flame retardant, is toxic for wildlife), hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether (industrial chemical, used as an additive flame retardant), pentachlorobenzene (produced unintentionally and used as a chemical intermediate for the production of quintozene, and formerly in dyestuff carriers, as a fungicide and flame retardant, very toxic to aquatic organisms), and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (an extremely persistent chemical, has several applications, for example, electric and electronic parts, fire fighting foam, photo imaging, hydraulic fluids and textiles; binds to proteins in the blood and liver - as opposed to other POPs which partition into fatty tissues).

For more information on the Stockholm Convention, please visit: http://chm.pops.int/default.aspx.