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Abstract

POPs are a group of chemicals which share some specific characteristics that make them of high international concern. Due to their semivolatility, POPs present a widespread distribution being able to reach remote locations and areas after travelling long distances in the atmosphere where they have never been produced nor used. Different chemical families are considered as POPs, such as PCBs, OCPs, PCDD/Fs, PAHs, and, PCNs. In addition, some emerging contaminants are currently considered as candidate POPs, like PBDEs and PFCs. POPs exist in the atmosphere as gases and bound to particles depending on their physico-chemical properties. This affinity to gas or particulate phase is of relevant importance in the processes of POP atmospheric global transport and degradation. POPs are delivered to aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems by atmospheric deposition, air-water interchanges and direct discharges. The general hydrophobic nature of POPs results in high affinity to organic matter and biota tissues. Consequently, organisms and sediments become final “sinks” of POPs, due to the low metabolic activity for these compounds and their slow degradation processes in the environment. A number of national and international actions have been promoted to reduce or ban their production and control their emissions to the environment. The UNEP Stockholm Convention adopted in May 2001. The Artic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) is measuring atmospheric concentrations of POPs in the artic region since it was established in 1991. At a European scale a big effort is being carried out combining the update of existing monitoring programmes with the generation of new legislations. Such is the case of the largest monitoring network across Europe gathering concentrations of POPs in air and deposition (EMEP). On the political side, the brand new European legislation on chemicals, REACH, will regulate the production of chemicals at a European scale.

Additional information

Authors: CASTRO-JIMÉNEZ J, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);EISENREICH S J, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);VIVES I, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 22876 EN (2007), various paging. Free of charge
Availability: http://bookshop.europa.eu/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/WFS/EU-Bookshop-Site/en_GB/-/EUR/ViewPublication-Start?PublicationKey=LANA22876 (Catalogue Number: LA-NA-22876-EN-C)
Record Number: 200719565 / Last updated on: 2007-10-29
Category: PUBLICATION
Original language: en
Available languages: en
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