Stockholm Convention: Chemicals, Progress and Future Trends
Derek Muir, Environment Canada, Wolfgang Rotard, Technical University of Berlin
At the SETAC Europe 23rd Annual Meeting in Glasgow, a session entitled “Stockholm Convention: Chemicals, Progress and Future Trends” addressed issues related to the identification and assessment of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), the effectiveness of global monitoring plans and capacity building conducted under the Stockholm Convention (SC) from the point of view of academic, governmental and chemical industry representatives. The full-day session of 34 presentations (16 platforms, 7 poster corners and 11 posters) was very well attended with an audience of 80–120.
Ramon Guardans, co-chair of the Global Coordination Group of the SC Global Monitoring Plan, started the session with a presentation on the challenges of assembling and making effective use of data from many sources, which, as he pointed out, was a problem faced by the ancient Greeks and Mesopotamians! Other morning presentations addressed global air measurements of POPs using passive sampling, measurements in the open oceans and in Antarctica. Rainer Malisch who heads the laboratory that analyses samples for POPs in human milk for the World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presented a large-scale study involving 66 countries. The study found large global and regional differences with respect to contamination with different POPs. Heidi Fiedler, who heads UNEP’s Science and POPs Team for global guidelines and capacity building, gave an overview of ongoing work to develop laboratory capacity in developing countries and assessed national dioxin and furan inventories. The performance of various laboratories involved in POPs monitoring around the world was discussed by Jacob de Boer (Free University, Amsterdam), who noted that there remained many challenges even for the analysis of legacy POPs and that, ironically, dioxin and furan analysis was the most reliable in interlaboratory comparisons. Nevertheless capacity building was praised by several speakers as an important aspect of SC activity.
Several presentations addressed the status and temporal trends of chemicals recently added to the Stockholm Convention such as hexabromocyclododecane and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), and the process of identification of new candidate POPs. An issue raised by several participants was the need for increasingly rigorous assessment data as chemicals in commerce are proposed for inclusion in the SC (the original “dirty dozen” organochlorines included in the SC had, to a large extent, been banned prior to the initiation of the SC). Dolf van Wijk, Director for Science and Regulatory Affairs for Euro Chlor, praised the SC for its global capacity building but noted that, from industry’s perspective, the SC had consistently failed to address the issue of adverse effects in remote environments, a key criterion according to the wording of the SC.
Following the oral presentations, a panel discussion led by scientists involved with global monitoring programs for POPs, Heidi Fiedler, Ramon Guardans, Tom Harner, and Rainer Malisch, took questions and comments from the audience and addressed a wide range of topics. Important issues that were raised included the need to further develop the definition and metrics for Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic; the importance of strong scientific basis underlying decisions of the SC POP Review Committee and the need to better define “adverse effects.”
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