Stockholm Convention’s Review Committee Takes Up “Live” Chemicals
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The fourteenth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants considered three chemicals and adopted three decisions.

Nonetheless, the technical complexity of the three substances and their widespread past and current use created substantial work for the Committee.

21 September 2018: The 14th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC-14) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) considered three chemicals that are “found in everything from fire-fighting foams to food packaging, and sometimes used as alternatives in similar or the same products.”

As the Committee commenced its meeting, which took place from 17-21 September 2018, in Rome, Italy, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions, reminded delegates of the Committee’s past successes: 16 of the 28 chemicals listed in the Stockholm Convention were reviewed by the POPRC, and concentrations of many of the POPs listed in the Convention are decreasing.

POPRC-14 considered: the draft risk profile on perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and related compounds; a recommendation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) on pentadecafluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts, and related compounds; and the process for the evaluation of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts, and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF) pursuant to Part III of Annex B to the Convention, which requires Parties to review the continued need for listed substances for various acceptable purposes and specific exemptions on the basis of available scientific, technical, environmental, and economic information.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the meeting notes that, although only three chemicals were considered, the “technical complexity of these closely-related substances, and their widespread past and current use, created substantial work for the Committee.” The summary also highlights that POPRC-14 “marked the completion of a long-foreseen transition from ‘dead’ to ‘live’ chemicals, illustrating the challenges of recommending policy responses to protect human health and the environment for chemicals used in applications such as fire-fighting foams, which are important for human safety.”

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary highlights that POPRC-14 adopted three decisions:

  • a risk profile on PFHxS, its salts, and related compounds, which concludes that these substances are likely, as a result of long-range environmental transport (LRET), to lead to significant adverse effects on human health and the environment such that global action is warranted;
  • a decision to recommend listing PFOA, its salts, and related compounds in Annex A of the Convention (elimination), with specific exemptions for some uses, including fire-fighting foams; and
  • a decision on PFOS, its salts, and PFOSF that, inter alia, recommends to the COP that some uses permitted under the Convention should be eliminated, due to the availability of safer alternatives for these uses.

[IISD RS summary of POPRC-14]


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