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Tackling threats posed by chemicals (Stockholm Convention)

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Tackling threats posed by chemicals (Stockholm Convention)

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) harm human health and the environment. The Stockholm Convention is based on the precautionary principle and seeks to guarantee the safe elimination of these substances, as well as reductions in their production and use.

ACT

Council Decision 2006/507/EC of 14 October 2004 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

SUMMARY

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) harm human health and the environment. The Stockholm Convention is based on the precautionary principle and seeks to guarantee the safe elimination of these substances, as well as reductions in their production and use.

WHAT DOES THIS DECISION DO?

It approves the European Union’s (or, as it was when adopted, the European Community’s) decision to participate in the Stockholm Convention. It defines POPs and rules governing their production, import and export. It requires that the public, politicians and the chemical industry are kept informed of the risks they pose.

KEY POINTS

Definition

POPs are chemical substances with certain toxic properties that resist degradation. They accumulate in living organisms, are transported by air, water and migratory species and accumulate in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Pollution caused by POPs is a cross-border problem requiring international action.

Scope

The Convention covers 23 priority POPs produced both intentionally and unintentionally (e.g. by sources like waste incinerators).

These are: aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane (DDT), dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexabromobiphenyl,hexabromocyclododecane, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, mirex, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDF), polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), technical endosulfan and its related isomers, tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether, and toxaphene.

Implementation

Three bodies implement the Convention at international level.

The Conference of the Parties comprises all the signatories plus, where appropriate, observers. It lays down rules on implementation and is responsible for major decisions.

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee is made up of specialists who examine proposals to add new substances to the Convention.

The Secretariat is responsible for administrative tasks.

Parties must develop plans to meet their obligations under the Convention. They each designate a national focal point to make it easier to exchange information.

Production, use, import and export

The Convention provides for ending the production, use, import and export of banned POPs.

The goal is to minimise and, where feasible, eliminate the unintentional production and release of POPs. To this end, signatories must develop action plans and seek to use substitute materials, products and processes.

BACKGROUND

The Convention was adopted in 2001. It came into force in 2004. It has 179 signatories, including the European Union.

For more information, see the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment website.

KEY WORDS

Precautionary principle: an approach to risk management whereby, if there is the possibility that a given policy or action might cause harm to the public or the environment and if there is still no scientific consensus on the issue, the policy or action in question should not be pursued.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2006/507/EC

14.10.2004

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OJ L 209 of 31.7.2006, pp. 1-2

RELATED ACTS

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 (OJ L 158 of 30.4.2004, pp. 7-49).

Council Decision 2004/259/EC of 19 February 2004 concerning the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants (OJ L 81 of 19.3.2004, pp. 35-36).

Last updated: 03.04.2015

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