by IISD's SDG Knowledge Hub,

The Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee (POPRC) to the Stockholm Convention  on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has elevated five chemicals to the next stage of its review process. It also recommended that a sixth chemical be considered for elimination of production and use. This final decision would be taken by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Stockholm Convention. 

The seventh session of the POPRC (POPRC-17) convened in a hybrid format from 24-28 January 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland and virtually. 

Members debated whether plastic debris in the oceans or seabirds is a mechanism for transporting the chemical UV-328 to other parts of the world.

Three chemicals were nominated for POPRC consideration due to their persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range environmental transport (LRET), and adverse effects (POPs characteristics as laid out in Convention Annex D). These chemicals were:

  • Chlorpyrifos,
  • Chlorinated paraffins with carbon chain lengths in the range C14-17 and chlorination levels at or exceeding 45% by weight, and
  • Long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (LC-PFCAs), their salts and related compounds.

All were moved to the next stage of review (Annex E), which includes in-depth reviews to determine if the chemical in question is a POP that warrants action due to its adverse effects on human health and/or the environment, and LRET.

Two chemicals were already at the Annex E stage: UV-328 and Dechlorane Plus. For UV-328, a stabilizer used in plastic products, the debate centered on LRET, and whether plastic debris in the oceans or seabirds is a mechanism for transporting the chemical to other parts of the world. For Dechlorane Plus, participants diverged regarding whether the chemical shows “significant adverse effects.” For both chemicals, the POPRC followed a precautionary approach, agreed global action is warranted, and moved the chemicals to the final review stage.

Finally, the POPRC considered the pesticide methoxychlor, which was already at the final review stage. The Committee considered a draft risk management evaluation, including socio-economic considerations and determining whether safe alternatives exist. The POPRC agreed to recommend that the COP decide to list methoxychlor under Convention Annex A, without exemptions, which would effectively eliminate its production and use.

When reviewing a chemical, the POPRC first determines whether the substance fulfills screening criteria detailed in Annex D. If a substance fulfills these requirements, the Committee 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 warrants global action. If global action is warranted, the POPRC develops a risk management evaluation according to Annex F, reflecting socio-economic considerations associated with possible control measures. The POPRC then decides whether to recommend that the COP list the substance under Convention Annexes A (chemicals to be eliminated), B (chemicals to be restricted), and/or C (minimizing unintentional production and release of listed chemicals).

The next meeting (COP) of the Stockholm Convention is scheduled to convene from 6-17 June 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, with an option for virtual participation. POPRC-18 is tentatively scheduled to convene 26-30 September 2022 in Rome, Italy.