The new POPs under the Stockholm Convention

Nine new POPs

At its fourth meeting held from 4 to 8 May 2009, the Conference of the Parties adopted amendments to Annexes A, B and C to the Stockholm Convention to list nine new persistent organic pollutants (SC-4/10-SC-4/18). Pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the Convention, the amendments were communicated by the depositary to all Parties on 26 August 2009. Reference: C.N.524.2009.TREATIES-4 (ENGLISH | FRENCH).

  • Pesticides: chlordecone, alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, pentachlorobenzene;
  • Industrial chemicals: hexabromobiphenyl, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, pentachlorobenzene, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether; and
  • By-products: alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane and pentachlorobenzene.

Endosulfan

At its fifth meeting held from 25 to 29 May 2011, the Conference of the Parties adopted an amendment to Annex A to the Stockholm Convention to list technical endosulfan and its related isomers with a specific exemption (decision SC-5/3). Pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 21 of the Convention, the amendment was communicated by the depositary to all Parties on 27 October 2011. Reference: C.N.703.201.TREATIES-8 (ENGLISH | FRENCH).

Chemical
Annex
Specific exemptions /
Acceptable purposes
   
A
Production: None
Use: None
   
A
Production: None
Use: None
  
A
Production: None
Use: None
  
A
Production: None
Use: None
  
A
Production: None
Use: Articles in accordance with the provisions of Part IV of Annex A
  
A
Production: None
Use: Human health pharmaceutical for control of head lice and scabies as second line treatment
    
A and C
Production: None
Use: None
  
B
Production: For the use below
Use: Acceptable purposes and specific exemptions in accordance with Part III of Annex B
A
Production: As allowed for the parties listed in the Register of specific exemptions
Use: Crop-pest complexes as listed in accordance with the provisions of part VI of  Annex A
  
A
Production: None
Use: Articles in accordance with the provisions of Part IV of Annex A
Pesticide
Industrial chemical
By-product

Chlordecone

Listed under Annex A (decision SC-4/12)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Chlordecone is chemically related to Mirex, a pesticide listed in Annex A of the Convention.

CAS No: 143-50-0
Trade name: Kepone® and GC-1189

 

Use and production

Chlordecone is a synthetic chlorinated organic compound, which was mainly used as an agricultural pesticide. It was first produced in 1951 and introduced commercially in 1958. Currently, no use or production of the chemical is reported.

POPs characteristics of chlordecone

Chlordecone is highly persistent in the environment, has a high potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification and based on physico-chemical properties and modelling data, chlordecone can be transported for long distances. It is classified as a possible human carcinogen and is very toxic to aquatic organisms.

Replacement of chlordecone

Alternatives to chlordecone exist and can be implemented inexpensively. Many countries have already banned its sale and use. The main objective to phase out chlordecone would be to identify and manage obsolete stockpiles and wastes.

Hexabromobiphenyl

Listed under Annex A (decision SC-4/13)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Hexabromobiphenyl belongs to the group of polybrominated biphenyls, which are brominated hydrocarbons formed by substituting hydrogen with bromine in biphenyl.

CAS No: 36355-01-8
Trade name: FireMaster BP-6 and FireMaster FF-1

 

Use and production

Hexabromobiphenyl is an industrial chemical that has been used as a flame retardant, mainly in the 1970s. According to available information, hexabromobiphenyl is no longer produced or used in most countries.

POPs characteristics of hexabromobiphenyl

The chemical is highly persistent in the environment, highly bioaccumulative and has a strong possibility for long-range environmental transport. As hexabromobiphenyl is classified as a possible human carcinogen and has other chronic toxic effects, the Committee recommended its listing as a POP.

Replacement of hexabromobiphenyl

Alternatives are available for all uses of hexabromobiphenyl, so prohibiting its use and production is feasible and inexpensive. This chemical is already subject to several national and international regulations, restricting its use and production.

Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether<br/> (commercial octabromodiphenyl ether)

Listed under Annex A with a specific exemption for use as articles containing these chemicals for recycling in accordance with the provision in Part IV of Annex A (decision SC-4/14)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether are the main components of commercial octabromodiphenyl ether.

CAS No: 68631-49-2
CAS No: 207122-15-4
CAS No: 446255-22-7
CAS No: 207122-16-5

 

POPs characteristics of hexaBDE and heptaBDE

Commercial mixture of octaBDE is highly persistent, has a high potential for bioaccumulation and food-web biomagnification, as well as for long-range transport. The only degradation pathway is through debromination and producing other bromodiphenyl ethers.

Replacement of hexaBDE and heptaBDE

Alternatives generally exist and there is no information about any current production. However, it is reported that many articles in use still contain these chemicals.

Debromination and precursors

Polybromodiphenyl ethers can be subject to debromination, i.e. the replacement of bromine on the aromatic ring with hydrogen.

Higher bromodiphenyl ether congeners may be converted to lower, and possibly more toxic, congeners. The higher congeners might therefore be precursors to the tetraBDE, pentaBDE, hexaBDE, or heptaBDE.

Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane

Listed under Annex A (decision SC-4/10)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

alpha hexachlorocyclohexane
CAS No: 319-84-6

 

Use and production

Although the intentional use of alpha-HCH as an insecticide was phased out years ago, this chemical is still produced as unintentional by-product of lindane. For each ton of lindane produced, around 6-10 tons of the other isomers including alpha- and beta-HCH are created. Large stockpiles of alpha- and beta-HCH are therefore present in the environment.

POPs characteristics of alpha-HCH

Alpha-HCH is highly persistent in water in colder regions and may bioaccumulate and biomagnify in biota and arctic food webs. This chemical is subject to long-range transport, is classified as potentially carcinogenic to humans and adversely affects wildlife and human health in contaminated regions.

Replacement of alpha-HCH

Today, alpha-HCH is only produced unintentionally during the production of lindane. Releases also occur from stockpiles and contaminated sites.

Beta hexachlorocyclohexane

Listed under Annex A (decision SC-4/11)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

beta hexachlorocyclohexane
CAS No: 319-85-7

 

Use and production

Although the intentional use of beta-HCH as an insecticide was phased out years ago, this chemical is still produced as unintentional by-product of lindane. For each ton of lindane produced, around 6-10 tons of the other isomers including alpha- and beta-HCH are created. Large stockpiles of alpha- and beta-HCH are therefore present in the environment.

POPs characteristics of beta-HCH

Beta-HCH is highly persistent in water in colder regions and may bioaccumulate and biomagnify in biota and arctic food webs. This chemical is subject to long-range transport, is classified as potentially carcinogenic to humans and adversely affects wildlife and human health in contaminated regions.

Replacement of beta-HCH

Today, beta-HCH is only produced unintentionally during the production of lindane. Releases also occur from stockpiles and contaminated sites.

Lindane

Listed under Annex A with a specific exemption for use as a human health pharmaceutical for control of head lice and scabies as second line treatment (decision SC-4/15)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Lindane is the common name for the gamma isomer of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH). Technical HCH is an isomeric mixture that contains mainly five forms, namely alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta- and epsilon-HCH.

Lindane (gamma-HCH)
CAS No: 58-89-9

 

Use and production

Lindane has been used as a broad-spectrum insecticide for seed and soil treatment, foliar applications, tree and wood treatment and against ectoparasites in both veterinary and human applications. The production of lindane has decreased rapidly in the last few years and only few countries are still known to produce lindane.

POPs characteristics of lindane

Lindane is persistent, bioaccumulates easily in the food chain and bioconcentrates rapidly. There is evidence for long-range transport and toxic effects (immunotoxic, reproductive and developmental effects) in laboratory animals and aquatic organisms.

Replacement of lindane

Alternatives for lindane are generally available, except for use as a human health pharmaceutical to control head lice and scabies. Regulations on the production, use and monitoring of lindane already exist in several countries.

Pentachlorobenzene (PeCB)

Listed under Annex A and under Annex C (decision SC-4/16)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF), addendum to the risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

PeCB belongs to a group of chlorobenzenes that are characterized by a benzene ring in which the hydrogen atoms are substituted by one or more chlorines.

CAS No: 608-93-5

 

Use and production

PeCB was used in PCB products, in dyestuff carriers, as a fungicide, a flame retardant and as a chemical intermediate e.g. previously for the production of quintozene. PeCB might still be used as an intermediate. PeCB is also produced unintentionally during combustion, thermal and industrial processes. It also present as impurities in products such as solvents or pesticides.

POPs characteristics of of PeCB

PeCB is persistent in the environment, highly bioaccumulative and has a potential for long-range environmental transport. It is moderately toxic to humans and very toxic to aquatic organisms.

Replacement of of PeCB

The production of PeCB ceased some decades ago in the main producer countries as efficient and cost-effective alternatives are available. Applying Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices would significantly reduce the unintentional production of PeCB.

Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether <br/>(commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether)

Listed under Annex A with a specific exemption for use as articles containing these chemicals for recycling in accordance with the provision in Part IV of Annex A (decision SC-4/18)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether are the main components of commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether.

CAS No: 5436-43-1 
CAS No: 60348-60-9

 

POPs characteristics of tetraBDE and pentaBDE

Commercial mixture of pentaBDE is highly persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative and has a high potential for long-range environmental transport. These chemicals have been detected in humans in all regions. There is evidence of its potential for toxic effects in wildlife, including mammals.

Replacement of tetraBDE and pentaBDE

Alternatives are available and used to replace these substances in many countries, although they might also have adverse effects on human health and the environment. Alternatives might not be available for use in military airplanes. The identification and also handling of equipment and wastes containing brominated diphenyl ethers is considered a challenge.

Polybromodiphenyl ethers

Polybromodiphenyl ether congeners including tetraBDE, pentaBDE, hexaBDE, and heptaBDE inhibit or suppress combustion in organic materials and therefore are used as additive flame retardants.

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and<br/> perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOS-F)

Listed under Annex B with acceptable purposes and specific exemptions (decision SC-4/17)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation (RME) Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF), addendum to the RME Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

PFOS is a fully fluorinated anion, which is commonly used as a salt or incorporated into larger polymers. PFOS and its closely related compounds, which may contain PFOS impurities or substances that can result in PFOS, are members of the large family of perfluoroalkyl sulfonate substances.

perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (CAS No: 1763-23-1) and its salts
perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (CAS No: 307-35-7)

 

Use and production

PFOS is both intentionally produced and an unintended degradation product of related anthropogenic chemicals. The current intentional use of PFOS is widespread and includes: electric and electronic parts, fire fighting foam, photo imaging, hydraulic fluids and textiles. PFOS is still produced in several countries.

POPs characteristics of PFOS

PFOS is extremely persistent and has substantial bioaccumulating and biomagnifying properties, although it does not follow the classic pattern of other POPs by partitioning into fatty tissues but instead binds to proteins in the blood and the liver. It has a capacity to undergo long-range transport and also fulfills the toxicity criteria of the Stockholm Convention.

Replacement of PFOS

While alternatives to PFOS are available for some applications, this is not always the case in developing countries where existing alternatives may need to be phased in. For some applications like photo imaging, semi-conductor or aviation hydraulic fluids, technically feasible alternatives to PFOS are not available to date.

List of acceptable purposes and specific exemptions
for production and use of PFOS, its salts and PFOS-F

Acceptable purposes:

Photo-imaging, photo-resist and anti-reflective coatings for semi-conductor, etching agent for compound semi-conductor and ceramic filter, aviation hydraulic fluids, metal plating (hard metal plating) only in closed-loop systems, certain medical devices (such as ethylene tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE) layers and radio-opaque ETFE production, in‑vitro diagnostic medical devices, and CCD colour filters), fire‑fighting foam, insect baits for control of leaf-cutting ants from Atta spp. and Acromyrmex spp.

Specific exemptions:

Photo masks in the semiconductor and liquid crystal display (LCD) industries, metal plating (hard metal plating, decorative plating), electric and electronic parts for some colour printers and colour copy machines, insecticides for control of red imported fire ant, and termites, chemically driven oil production, carpets, leather and apparel, textiles and upholstery, paper and packaging, coatings and coating additives, rubber and plastics.

Technical endosulfan and its related isomers

Listed under Annex A with specific exemptions (decision SC-5/3)

Risk profile Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
Risk management evaluation Ar, Cn, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)

Chemical identity and properties

Endosulfan occurs as two isomers: alpha- and beta-endosulfan. They are both biologically active. Technical endosulfan (CAS No: 115-29-7) is a mixture of the two isomers along with small amounts of impurities.

 

 

alpha-endosulfan
CAS No: 959-98-8



 

beta-endosulfan
CAS No: 33213-65-9


Use and production

According to the risk management evaluation on endosulfan, adopted by the POPRC, endosulfan is an insecticide that has been used since the 1950s to control crop pests, tsetse flies and ectoparasites of cattle and as a wood preservative. As a broad-spectrum insecticide, endosulfan is currently used to control a wide range of pests on a variety of crops including coffee, cotton, rice, sorghum and soy.

A total of between 18,000 and 20,000 tons of endosulfan are produced annually in Brazil, China, India, Israel and South Korea. Colombia, the United States of America  and several countries in Europe that used to produce endosulfan have stopped its production.

The largest users of endosulfan (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and the United States) use a total of about 15,000 tons of endosulfan annually. An additional 21 countries report using endosulfan. The use of endosulfan is banned or will be phased out in 60 countries that, together, account for 45 per cent of current global use. 

POPs characteristics of endosulfan

According to the risk profile on endosulfan, adopted by the POPRC, endosulfan is persistent in the atmosphere, sediments and water. Endosulfan bioaccumulates and has the potential for long-range transport. It has been detected in air, sediments, water and in living organisms in remote areas, such as the Arctic, that are distant from areas of intensive use.

Endosulfan is toxic to humans and has been shown to have adverse effects on a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial organisms. Exposure to endosulfan has been linked to congenital physical disorders, mental retardations and deaths in farm workers and villagers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Endosulfan sulfate shows toxicity similar to that of endosulfan.

Replacement of endosulfan

Chemical and non-chemical alternatives to endosulfan are available in many geographical situations both in developed and developing countries. Some of these alternatives are being applied in countries where endosulfan has been banned or is being phased-out. However, in some countries, it may be difficult and/or costly to replace endosulfan for specific crop-pest complexes. Some countries also prefer to use endosulfan in pollinator management, insecticide resistance management, integrated pest management systems and because it is effective against a broad range of pests. Some countries want to continue to use endosulfan to allow time for the phase-in of alternatives.