4 October 2019: The 15th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) decided to recommend one widely used industrial chemical for elimination with no exemptions (PFHxS, which is widely used in fire-fighting foams and metal plating, and is also used in commercial household products such as waxes, polishes, and water- and stain-repellent fabrics). POPRC also agreed to commence the second stage of review for two chemicals that were newly proposed for listing (Dechlorane Plus, a polychlorinated flame retardant additive, and Methoxychlor, an organochlorine pesticide).

POPRC carries out a range of technical work in support of the Convention’s objective to protect human health and the environment from POPs. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin notes that, since entering into force in 2004, the Stockholm Convention has expanded its reach from the original “dirty dozen” chemicals to include 18 new listings and, as the gatekeeper to the Convention, the POPRC has played a critical role in the expansion and success of the Convention in responding to newly identified threats to human health and the environment.

The 1-4 October 2019 meeting, which took place in Rome, Italy, brought together a group of 31 government-designated experts (30 of whom were present) plus representatives from government, business and civil society, to review three chemicals nominated for listing in Annexes A, B, and/or C to the Convention: the insecticide methoxychlor; the industrial chemical Dechlorane Plus (and its syn-isomer and anti-isomer); and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and related compounds. 

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that POPRC agreed that the first two chemicals, which were in the first phase of the POPRC’s three-stage review process, satisfy the screening criteria (persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport, and adverse effects). Therefore, both methoxychlor and Dechlorane Plus will move to the second stage of the POPRC’s review process, in which the Committee will evaluate a draft risk profile to determine whether the substances meet the specific thresholds necessary for categorization as POPs.

On PFHxS, the Committee decided to recommend that the Conference of the Parties (COP) consider listing this substance in Annex A (elimination) with no exemptions. [IISD RS Coverage of POPRC-15]