Article

The EU Updates Its POP Regulations

Posted on: August 29, 2019

by Dr. Eleanor Grimes

Photo of a scientist pouring pollutants into a stream - Learn more about the new POP regulationsOn the 20th June, the EU released a recast of the 2004 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Regulation (EU 2019/1021). The regulation is the main legislative force covering the identification, restriction, prohibition, and disposal of POPs and came into force on the 15th July, repealing the previous regulation.

POPs are a group of organic substances that are resistant to natural degradation processes and cause adverse effects to human health or the environment. Due to the high levels of concern surrounding these chemicals, the United Nations released the Stockholm Convention in 2001, which went on to be ratified by over 180 parties worldwide, although the US remains a notable non-ratifying state. The European POP regulation is the major legal implementing force for this treaty in Europe.

The recast has been released as the European Commission was concerned over the continued release of POP substances into the environment. Due to their inherent persistent nature, these substances linger extensively in the environment and enter the food chain. They can then bioaccumulate, potentially leading to further issues both in the environment and to human health. As the substances travel easily through the environment, Union legislation is required, rather than legislation at a Member State level, to effectively meet the challenges presented by these substances.

The main areas that are amended in the recast are:

  • Improved consistency in the definitions, such as the use of the terms ‘substance’ and ‘mixture’, with other European legislation.
  • The introduction of decabromodiphenyl ether (Deca-BDE) and pentachlorophenol (PCP) and its salts and esters to Part A of Annex I. This annex lists the substances present in the Protocol on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and the Stockholm Convention and their exemptions.
  • The restriction limits for the flame retardants tetra-, penta-, hexa- and heptabromodiphenyl ethers are updated in Part A of Annex I, when they are present as unintentional trace contaminants.
  • ECHA will take over responsibility for the administrative, technical and scientific aspects of this regulation from the European Commission.

Recommended Actions

  • Read through redefined definitions, terminology, the dates and timelines specified in the Regulation.

References

EU 2019/1021 on persistent organic pollutants

The Stockholm Convention


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