Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)
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What are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)? subir

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are an integral part of the PBT group, which additionally includes trace metals and organo-metal compounds.

Persistent Organic Pollutants are characterized by:

  • High persistence in the environment and high resistance to degradation

  • Capability to bioaccumulate in tissues of living organisms and to biomagnify in food chains

  • High toxicity with serious human and environmental effects

  • Potential to travel long distances and reach areas and remote regions where they have never been used

POPs’ effects on human health include cancer, allergies/hypersensitivity, damages to central and peripheral nervous systems and disorders of the immune and reproductive systems. Some POPs also have endocrine disrupting properties.

As PBT substances, POPs are also involved with serious animals’ adverse effects, such as endocrine disruption, reproductive dysfunction, behavioural abnormalities, birth defects, disturbance of the immune system and extinction of whole populations, among others.

POPs imply a serious threat to human health and to the global environment. Hence, global measures are being taken within the scope of the Stockholm Convention on POPs aimed at protecting human health and the environment from these hazardous chemicals through the elimination or reduction of their emissions and releases.

What to do?subir

There is no safe level of exposure, emission or dumping of these chemicals given their persistence and capability to accumulate in living organisms.

The intrinsic characteristics of POPs, their presence at workplaces represents a high level of risk. Their elimination and substitution are a priority. Only in cases where replacement is not technically feasible other measures must be taken to reduce occupational (individual and collective protection) and environmental exposure (avoiding dumping and emissions) following the basic principles of the European occupational health and safety laws.

Especially, women in fertile age, pregnant and lactating mothers must avoid exposure.


According to the Stockholm Convention, POPs are classified in five annexes depending on the measures to be adopted (elimination, restriction or reduction of emissions) and the phase of the risk assessment they are subject.

Annex A

POPs to be eliminated

Annex B

POPs subject to restricted use

Annex C

POPs whose emissions must be reduced

Candidate POP Annex D

chemicals that match the screening criteria to be classified as POPs due to their intrinsic properties

Candidate POP Annex E

chemicals that match the screening criteria to be classified as POPs, whose risk assessment shows that have potential for long-range environmental transport, and whose evidence of adverse effects to human health or to the environment justifies consideration of the chemical within the scope of this Convention

Candidate POP Annex F

chemicals that require global action (after passing the previous phases in Annexes D and E) and for which global measures are being assessed: elimination, reduction of emissions or restriction

European Regulations on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Regulation (EC) No 850/2004, Commission Regulation (EU) No 756/2010 and Commission Regulation (EU) No 757/2010) include different lists of substances with POP properties.

In 2007, another list of POP substances has been published by the EU27 as part of the interim-strategy between the former European Chemicals legislation and REACH.

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This list of POPs was developed using following sources:

ListSourcePublication date
POPStockholm Convention

May 2009

 Regulations 850/2004, 756/2010, 757/2010March 2012

Last updatesubir

July de 2012


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