Big Year for chemicals & waste continues as UN experts take steps to recommend eliminating UV-328 (a toxic plastic additive)

Geneva, Switzerland: 16 January 2021 - Just two weeks after the landmark Basel Convention’s Plastic Waste Amendments became effective for 186 states, almost 200 UN scientific experts and observers from around the world met online this week to review the scientific case for listing UV-328, a toxic chemical additive typically found in certain specific types of plastics, in Annex A to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

UV-328 is a ubiquitous high-volume additive typically used as an ultra-violet (UV) stabiliser in plastic products such as some personal care products, rubber and coatings. UV-328 is found in the environment and biota, including in remote areas such as the Arctic and the Pacific Ocean, far from its production and use. UV-328 has been found to be transported with, and may subsequently be released from plastic debris, which is taken up for example by seabirds with subsequent accumulation in their tissue, and microplastics. In humans, UV-328 has been detected in breast milk.  It is also the first non-halogenated chemical considered by the Stockholm Convention scientific subsidiary body, the POPs Review Committee. Possible eventual listing in Annex A, B and/or C at a future meeting of the Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention would then trigger its reduction or elimination.

The 16th Meeting of the POPs Review Committee, held online from 11 to 16 January 2021, concluded that UV-328 satisfies all criteria set out in Annex D to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)1, namely persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects to humans and/or the environment. UV-328 now goes forward to the next stage of the review by the Committee. After rigorous scientific review and socio-economic considerations, a future meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Stockholm Convention will take into account the recommendations of the Committee, and may decide to list it, leading to actions towards its elimination or reduction from production and use, as well as the destruction of existing stocks and management of POPs wastes. Given UV-328’s proliferation in plastic products, such a listing would strengthen the Stockholm Convention’s role as a key, additional, instrument for governments across the globe to tackle the growing plastic waste crisis.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, said that “The evaluation by POPRC of UV-328, a plastic chemical additive with long-term ecological and health effects, boosts the important work we have begun to address the toxic components present in many types of plastics. The synergies between the Basel and Stockholm Conventions provide the global legal and scientific framework, as well as a platform of opportunity for countries to continue to critically address the global plastics crisis.”

The Committee also considered other chemicals and adopted the risk profile for Methoxychlor, a pesticide used as a replacement for DDT, and decided that it is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects such that global action is warranted. An intersessional working group will continue the work by preparing a draft risk management evaluation that includes an analysis of possible control measures for Methoxychlor. 

The Committee also considered Dechlorane Plus, a flame retardant that has been in use since the 1960s, deciding  – following extensive discussions – that while information on persistence, bioaccumulation and the potential for long-range environmental transport was conclusive, the information on adverse effects was deemed insufficient to support a decision on the risk profile at this moment. Information and scientific research on adverse effects of Dechlorane Plus on human health and the environment is therefore urgently needed – before September 2021 – for the Committee to be able to further evaluate potential adverse effects and recommend if global action on this chemical is warranted.

POPRC last year recommended Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds be listed in Annex A to the Convention, which will be considered at the next meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention (COP) to be held in July 2021. PFHxS is a group of industrial chemicals used widely in a number of consumer goods as a surfactant and sealant including in carpets, leather, clothing, textiles, fire-fighting foams, papermaking, printing inks and non-stick cookware. PFHxS is known to be harmful to human health including the nervous system, brain development, endocrine system and thyroid hormone.

To date, 30 POPs, which covers thousands of related chemicals, are listed in the Annexes A, B and C to the legally binding Stockholm Convention. The Convention, which entered into force in 2004 has 184 Parties, and benefits from almost universal coverage across the globe.

Notes for Editors:


UV-328 is a substituted phenolic benzotriazole (BZT) used as a UV absorber in many products. BZTs absorb the full spectrum of UV light and are mostly used in transparent plastics, coatings, and personal care products (PCPs). UV-328 in particular can be used in many types of plastic polymer matrices, typically in concentrations between 0.1 and 0.5% of mass. UV-328 is used as a printing ink additive in food contact materials, too. Because it is not bound to the polymer, UV-328 can migrate from within the polymer matrix and eventually diffuse out of the matrix and enter the environment.


PFHxS, its salts and related compounds have unique properties with a high resistance to friction, heat, chemical agents, low surface energy and are used as a water, grease, oil and soil repellent. It is widely utilized in a variety of consumer goods such as carpets, leather, apparel, textiles, firefighting foam, papermaking, printing inks, sealants, and non-stick cookware. PFHxS concentrations are found in biota and humans alike and its elimination takes approximately 8 years. Effects of PFHxS in humans are found to influence the nervous system, brain development, endocrine system and thyroid hormone. For more on PFHxS see:

POPs and the Stockholm Convention

Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious adverse health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Given that these chemicals can be transported over long distances, no one government acting alone can protect its citizens or its environment from POPs. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, is a global treaty requiring its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment, to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment.

For more information on the Stockholm Convention, POPs, and POPRC:

For more info:

Technical contact: Kei Woodall Ohno, BRS Secretariat; email: tel: +41-22-9178201

Press contact: Charlie Avis, BRS Secretariat email: tel: +41-79-7304495

[1] That it is toxic to both humans and wildlife, persists over long periods in the environment, accumulates in organisms, and that when released can be transported over long distances by air or water, in this case as an additive to plastic waste which ends up as marine plastic litter.