Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is Chemical substances harmful to humans that exist in or accumulate within the bodies of animals and plants, and circulate in the natural environment over extended periods. Persistent organic pollutants (PoPs) are a class of naturally occurring or synthetic organic pollutants characterized by persistence, bioaccumulation, semi-volatility, and high toxicity. POPs include pesticides, industrial chemicals, and by-products unintentionally generated during industrial processes . These pollutants can travel long distances through various environmental media (air, water, organisms), crossing borders and affecting human health and ecosystems even in areas where PoPs were never used or produced, causing significant global harm.
The 19th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-19) was held from October 9 to 13, 2023, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, Italy. During this meeting, scientists unanimously recommended that the following two groups of chemicals be considered hazardous and proposed their inclusion in Annex A of the Stockholm Convention: 1. Chlorinated paraffins with a carbon chain length in the range of C14-17 and a chlorine content equal to or greater than 45% (by weight), commonly known as medium-chain chlorinated paraffins or MCCPs. 2. Long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), their salts, and related compounds.
On August 8, 2023, the European Commission issued the revised amendment (EU) 2023/1608 to the European Union Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation (EU) 2019/1021. This amendment officially designates PFHxS and its salts, as well as related substances, to be listed in Annex I of the EU POPs Regulation. The revised regulation will come into effect on the 20th day from the date of publication in the official journal and will be applicable to all member states.
On June 20, 2023, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) announced that the European Union Enforcement Forum plans to carry out the 13th Joint Enforcement Project (REF-13) and the 3rd Major Enforcement Project on Biocides (BEF-3) within the EU by 2025.
On May 30, 2023, the European Commission announced its decision to adopt the proposal to amend Annex I of Regulation (EU) 2019/1021. This decision confirms the inclusion of PFHxS and its salts and related compounds in the list of banned substances under the POPs Regulation.
On May 12, 2023, the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention made a significant decision to eliminate the use of three persistent organic pollutants. These substances include the pesticide Methoxychlor, the industrial chemical Dechlorane Plus, and UV-328, and they have been added to Annex A of the Convention. In the near future, the Parties to the Convention will take action to regulate these three substances, and the European Union will also incorporate them into the EU POPs regulation.
The European Commission published the amendment to the POPs Regulation in its Official Journal on April 28, 2023 - (EU) 2023/866, primarily updating certain exemptions related to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts, and PFOA-related compounds in points 3, 4, and 5. This amendment shall enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal, and Member States shall adopt and publish the relevant laws, regulations, or administrative provisions by no later than August 18, 2023.
ECHA’s Enforcement Forum agreed to run a pilot project to check for the presence of restricted perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) and related substances in consumer products such as cosmetics. In 2023, EHCA announced that the pilot project will be launched for inspection and will continue in 12 participating countries in 2024. The aim is to protect consumers from exposure to PFCA and related SVHC substances, including PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
On November 23, 2022, the EU Commission released the Regulation (EU) 2022/2291 in the Official Journal of the European Union amending Part A of Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2019/1021, in which Unintentional Trace Contaminant (UTC) limit is set for hexachlorobenzene. The Regulation 2022/2291 shall enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication and be applicable in all Member States.
Recently, several countries and regions have issued or drafted environmental regulations in succession, all of which aimed at restricting the use of one same hazardous substance - PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFCs). The frequent legislative and regulatory trends around the world have brought PFASs into the limelight once again.