What are POPs?
POP is the abbreviation of Persistent Organic Pollutants. These are carbon-based organic chemical substances. They possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that, once released into the environment, they:
- remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years);
- become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air;
- accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and
- are toxic to both humans and wildlife.
The Dirty Dozen
Under the Stockholm Convention of May 22, 2001, which has been signed by 122 states and ratified by 180, the production and use of an initial set of 12 toxins has been restricted or forbidden worldwide. The so-called Dirty Dozen include nine pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, and toxaphene), a group of industrial chemicals (polychlorinated biphenyls), and two groups of undesirable byproducts (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans).
The pollutants are divided into three categories:
Annex A = Elimination
Parties must take measures to eliminate the production and use of the chemicals listed under Annex A. Specific exemptions for use or production are listed in the Annex and apply only to Parties that register for them.
Annex B = Restriction
Parties must take measures to restrict the production and use of the chemicals listed under Annex B in light of any applicable acceptable purposes and/or specific exemptions listed in the Annex.
Annex C = Unintentional production
Parties must take measures to reduce the unintentional releases of chemicals listed under Annex C with the goal of continuing minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination.
Meanwhile, many other pollutants have been added, and more fall under the Stockholm Convention each year.
Under http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/ThePOPs/ListingofPOPs you can find an overview of the listed substances.
Implementation in the EU
The Stockholm Convention was implemented by Regulation (EC) No. 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117 / EEC. The long-term objective is environmental protection and the protection of human health. In some respects the EU regulation even goes beyond the Stockholm Convention. Thus, the use and commercialization of SCCP within the EU has already been banned.
In 2019, the EU regulation was tightened even further. There is a new limit value of 10 mg/kg for the flame retardant DecaBDE and other brominated diphenyl ethers. For mixtures, a limit value of 500 mg/kg applies to all BDEs together. Here you can find the text of the Regulation (EU) 2019/1021 of the European Parliament and Council.
Is the automotive industry affected?
For the automotive industry, the regulation of so-called POPs has been relevant since 2014 at the latest. In that year the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) was added to the Stockholm Convention list. For 2017, a ban on the flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE) and SCCP (are used as plasticizers and flame retardants) is planned.