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Protecting health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants

This summary has been archived and will not be updated. See 'Protecting health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants' for an updated information about the subject.

Protecting health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)* pose a considerable risk to human health and the environment. Here, the EU takes action to combat this risk.


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.



It creates a legal framework to protect human health and the environment by prohibiting, phasing out as soon as possible or restricting the production, placing on the market and use of POPs. It also lays down rules for dealing with stockpiles and waste containing POPs.


  • POPs are broken down into lists in the annexes to the regulation: (Annex I) substances subject to prohibition; (Annex II) substances subject to restrictions; (Annex III) substances subjected to release reduction; and (Annex IV) substances subject to waste management provisions.
  • There are some conditions when POPs are exempted from this regulation’s control measures, such as when they are used for laboratory research or if they occur as unintentional trace contaminants in other substances.
  • EU countries must set up inventories for unintentionally produced POPs, draw up national implementation plans, monitor POPs in close cooperation with the European Commission and engage in information exchanges with both other EU countries and non-EU countries.
  • This regulation implements two international conventions that address POPs in the European Union: the 1998 Aarhus Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.


*Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances, such as pesticides or industrial chemicals, which stay in the environment, migrate into the food chain, and threaten human health and the environment.

It is very common for POPs to be transported very far from their source of origin, thus making it a truly global problem.

For more information, see POPs - persistent organic pollutants on the European Commission’s website.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 850/2004



OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, pp. 7-49




OJ L 229, 29.6.2004, pp. 5-22

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

last update 30.06.2015