Ana-Maria Witt
Ana-Maria Witt
Topic: COUNTDOWN TO THE TRIPLE COPS: How effective has the Stockholm Convention been to rid the world of persistent organic pollutants (POPs)?
Ana-Maria Witt is a Programme Officer in the Scientific Support Branch of the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions....
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Number of questions: [2]
Posted on 22/02/2017 14:51:10

I am curious to know if there are there flagrant differences in POPs measured in developing and developed regions.

Thank you for your answer, Flavia
Flavia Ernst (from Netherlands)
Dear Flavia,

Thank you for the question.

While concentrations of POPs measured in the environment and in humans do reflect to some extent past and/or current patterns in production and use, the issue remains of concern for all regions of the globe.

While many of the POPs included in the Stockholm Convention are no longer produced, they persist for long periods of time in the environment and accumulate in the food chain. Because they are easily transported by wind and water, POPs generated in one site affect people and their environment far from where they were/are used and emitted. Some of the largest concentrations are measured in the remote areas, such as the Arctic, where they have never been produced.

For a number of POPs, concentrations are measured at relatively similar levels worldwide. Take the example of dioxins and furans for instance, these are chemicals that have never been produced intentionally, but are byproducts of many anthropogenic activities. Concentrations of these chemicals are found at comparatively similar levels in human milk samples in both industrialized and less industrialized regions. While combustion and industrial processes are major sources of these chemicals in industrialized regions, sources such as open burning of biomass and/or waste are of equal relevance for developing regions.

Another example among the POPs more recently listed in the Convention, for instance concentrations of PFOS have also been detected in mothers' milk in all regions. Because this particular chemical is measured at very low concentrations in milk, up to 100 times lower than what is measured in blood, the fact that it could be detected in a majority of human milk samples shows that contamination and human exposure in all regions is of concern.

You may find more examples and additional details in the 2017 global monitoring report available at

Best regards, Ana

Posted on 21/02/2017 10:00:20
Hi Ana-Maria
Please tell us what are the highlights of the new Stockholm report covering reduction of POPs in language for the non-expert, thank you

Ed Owens, Bristol
Edward Owens (from United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Hi Ed,

Thank you for this question. 2017 marks the first extensive review of the Stockholm Convention’s effectiveness in accordance with well defined procedures: a wealth of information was considered in this evaluation, including for instance monitoring data on the presence of POPs and their trends over time in the environment and in human populations, data on production levels, use, import and export of POPs provided by parties, collected since the entry into force of the treaty.

Overall, the evaluation points to the conclusion that the Convention provides an effective framework to regulate POPs, but implementation issues do exist. Monitoring results indicate that POPs regulations are reducing environmental and human exposure. Concentrations have declined and continue to decline or remain at low levels. This is particularly true for the initial 12 POPs listed in the Convention; for the newly listed POPs, concentrations are beginning to show decreases. A limited number of observations show increases in environmental levels. Nevertheless, such local increases do not prevent concluding on the effectiveness of the Convention: measures taken to implement the Convention show their effects in terms of declining concentrations globally, in both the environment and in human populations.

For more information, please see Some of the key highlights of the effectiveness evaluation findings are summarized in concise factsheets for some of the key POPs targeted by the Stockholm Convention.

Best regards, Ana