Press Release

UN chemical body recommends elimination of the toxic pesticide endosulfan

Moving to strengthen global science on hazardous chemicals, the POPs Review Committee proposes to investigate toxicological interactions of multiple chemicals and welcomes new research on chemicals & climate change

Geneva (Switzerland), 19 October 2010 – The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), a subsidiary body to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, adopted a dozen decisions at its sixth meeting, concluded last Friday, including ones aimed at strengthening chemicals science on climate change and POPs. POPRC adopted the risk profile for hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and set up an intersessional working group to prepare a draft risk management evaluation to evaluate socio-economic implications of possible control measures for the chemical. POPRC also agreed to adopt the risk management evaluation for endosulfan and recommended listing endosulfan in Annex A of the Convention, with specific exemptions, a move that would lead to its elimination from the global market.

The committee reviewed three chemicals that have been nominated as substances to be added to the Convention:

Endosulfan: The committee reviewed and adopted the risk management evaluation on endosulfan, a widely used pesticide. It agreed that the POP characteristics of the chemical warrant global action. The committee finalized a recommendation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) for its consideration on listing in Annex A of the Convention. Endosulfan is used on many crops such as soy, cotton, rice, and tea. It is highly toxic to humans and many other animals and has been found in the environment, including the Arctic.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD): The committee reviewed and adopted the risk profile on HBCD, a chemical Norway proposed to list under the Convention. HBCD is a flame retardant used mainly in expanded and extruded polystyrene. It is also used in textile coatings and in high impact polystyrene for electrical and electronic equipment. The committee considered the information provided and concluded that HBCD, due to its adverse effects, persistence, bioaccumulation and long-range transport, should proceed to the risk management phase, the next step in the committee’s review process.

• Short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP): The committee reviewed the revised risk profile and decided to postpone any decision-making. In the meantime, it will gather additional information on its environmental and health effects and trends in the levels in the environment to assist decision-making at its eighth meeting. SCCP are a group of industrial chemicals used in metalworking, and the formulation and manufacturing of products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and metalworking fluids. They are of concern because they are persistent, have been found in remote areas such as the Arctic, and could accumulate to levels that are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms.

The committee recommended that the Parties to the Convention review a global study under preparation on persistent organic pollutants and climate change at its fifth Conference of the Parties. Changes in the global climate caused by global warming are feared to increase the risk of exposure to POPs through such mechanisms as the increased frequency and severity of storm events, leading to the inundation of POPs pesticide stockpiles during major floods.

The recommendation of the POPRC to list endosulfan along with the committee’s other recommendations will be conveyed to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention, to be held in April 2011.

Donald Cooper, Executive Secretary of the Stockholm Convention, said “For the first time, Stockholm Convention Parties will be asked to mandate POPRC to investigate interactions between chemicals. The recommendations taken by the committee demonstrate the strong scientific basis of the international decision-making process on chemicals that are of global concern.“

The POPRC also reviewed information on the nine POPs that were listed in August 2010, including perfluorooctane sulfonates (PFOS) and brominated flame retardants, and undertook technical review of the implications of recycling bromodiphenyl ethers (BDEs) as part of the new POPs work programme. The work programme on new POPs contains, in an annex, recommendations on the elimination of BDEs from the waste stream and on risk reduction for PFOS.

The committee also finalized its guidelines on alternatives to PFOS and discussed other technical issues such as the proposal for the evaluation of the toxicological interaction of multiple chemicals.

Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, Co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, applauded the POPRC’s decisions. "IPEN is very pleased to see the decisions taken by the POPs Review Committee on two of the nominated POPs. The world is now a major step closer to seeing the dangerous pesticide, endosulfan, finally banned internationally. We were also pleased to see the committee agree that the fire retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) is a persistent organic pollutant worthy of global action and move it to the final stage of assessment“, Lloyd-Smith said.

The sixth meeting of the committee was held from 11 to 15 October 2010, in Geneva, Switzerland.

POPRC will report its conclusions and make recommendations to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP5). COP5 will be held from 25 to 29 April 2011 in Geneva.

Note to Editors

The POPRC is composed of 31 members appointed by the Conference of the Parties– who are all highly placed scientists representing their regions around the globe. The meetings of the committee are also open to observers from the NGO community, industry, research organizations and governments. Its mandate is to review proposals to add new chemicals to the Stockholm Convention.

A chemical can be listed in the Stockholm Convention as a persistent organic pollutant when it shows that it persists in the environment, bioaccumulates in organisms (increases in concentration up the food chain), travels through the environment over long distances from the region of its release to other regions of the globe, and is toxic to the environment and human health.

Currently, there are twenty-one chemicals listed in the convention including DDT, lindane, PCBs and dioxins and furans and some brominated flame retardants. The objective of the convention, which has 172 Parties, is to restrict and eliminate these chemicals from production and use in order to protect human health and the environment.

Since the beginning of its operations, the POPRC has recommended nine chemicals for listing and all nine were accepted by the Conference of the Parties of the Convention during its fourth meeting in May 2009. Amendments incorporating these nine chemicals into the annexes of the Convention entered into force on 26 August 2010.

Several publications have been published for the meeting of the POPs Review Committee:

• The 9 new POPs Risk Management Evaluations 2005-2008 (POPRC1-POPRC4)

• Guidance on considerations related to alternatives and substitutes for listed persistent organic pollutants and candidate chemicals (2009)

• Guidance on feasible flame-retardant alternatives to commercial pentabromodiphenyl ether (2009)

• Handbook for effective participation in the POPs Review Committee under the Stockholm Convention (2009)

• Pocket Guide for effective participation in the POPs Review Committee under the Stockholm Convention (2009) (available in 6 languages)

• Code of practice for the treatment of confidential information in the POPs Review Committee (2007)

Further information is available at and or by emailing


Kei Ohno, Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, Geneva, +41 (22) 917 8201, e-mail:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, Nairobi, + 254-20-7623084; + 254-733-632755 (m); +41-79-596-5737 (m2), e-mail:

Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Focal Point/Public Information Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, UNEP Geneva, + 41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495, e-mail: or

Sixth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC)

Geneva, Switzerland, 11 - 15 October 2010

See the POPRC6 page