Press Release

Climate change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts

Nairobi, 21 February 2011 - Climate change increases the planet’s vulnerability to highly toxic chemicals, according to a global study released jointly by the Stockholm Secretariat and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) at the UNEP Governing Council today. 

The first systematic and authoritative review of the impact of climate change on the release of POPs into the environment, their long range transport and environmental fate, and human and environmental exposure found that climate change threatens to undermine the Stockholm Convention’s effort to reduce exposures to POPs. 

Donald Cooper, the Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention says "Robust information on processes leading to increased levels of POPs in the environment, higher exposure of ecosystems and human populations, and increased toxicity of chemicals is essential to allow appropriate policy responses through the Stockholm Convention and regional and national strategies to address the complex challenge posed by POPs and global environmental change."  

Increased POPs emissions triggered by global warming increases the availability of POPs to enter the food chain, threatening the health of humans and animals. 

Higher temperatures can make wildlife more sensitive to exposure of certain pollutants. In the Arctic region, climate change can alter the exposure levels of marine mammals, such as seals or the polar bears, through a variety of means including changes in long-range atmospheric and oceanographic transport along with the melting of the ice caps. 

The study suggests that the expected increase in the incidence of vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, associated with climate change may increase demand for and release of DDT in some regions. 

The study, “Climate Change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts”, was conducted by climate and chemical experts from 12 countries. The study was jointly published by the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention and Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). The full study will be presented to the 5th meeting of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention in April 2011. The objective of the Stockholm Convention is to protect human health and the environment from POPs.