POPs workshop - report

Identifying the research needs in the global assessment of POPs ten years after the signature of the Stockholm Convention.

The Stockholm Convention (SC) on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have adverse effects to human health or to the environment (http://chm.pops.int/default.aspx). The text of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was adopted 22 May 2001 and entered into force ninety days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by a country to the Convention, 17 May 2004.

Between 22nd and 24th of May, 2011, at the opportunity of the 10th anniversary of adoption of the SC, the international expert meeting was organized by the Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX) of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, supported by American Chemical Society, European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention, Czech Ministry of Environment and SITA CZ a.s.. The RECETOX centre, acting also as a Regional centre of the Stockholm Convention for capacity building and transfer of technology in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, invited the world leading POPs scientists from all continents together with representatives of the SC secretariat, UNEP and EC to join a discussion focused on identification of the research needs in the global assessment of toxic compounds.

The program was organized in three sessions

  • Identification of new POPs, evaluation of their properties, mechanisms of toxicity, and associated risks
  • Effectiveness evaluation of the Convention measures, application of the experimental and modelling tools to study distribution
  • Data management, databases, models and expert systems for interpretation and visualization of data

Speakers in the first session opened the topics of the POPs regulation, lessons learned in the last decade and challenges ahead of us. They further discussed a process of identification and evaluation of new chemicals, and a need for combining toxicological assessment of new chemicals with human exposure and process studies.

The second session was focused on occurrence of legacy and emerging POPs and processes affecting their presence in the atmosphere, water and other matrices, on processes at the phase interfaces, long range transport, temporal trends and experience from various monitoring projects and networks.

The last session was devoted to data availability and comparability, quality assurance procedures, data evaluation and interpretation, development of environmental databases, information systems, and models predicting human exposure and associated risks.

Rapporteurs of all sessions provided a summary of the talks at the end of each day to open general discussion on the topic of the day. All three panel discussions were moderated and new suggestions recorded as a major source of material for the final workshop declaration.

The participants discussed indoor and outdoor emission sources of toxic compounds, evidence for their intercontinental transport, effectiveness of the Stockholm Convention and sustainability of the Global monitoring plan. They addressed chemical and physical processes affecting the fate of chemicals and evaluation of models predicting their behavior in the environment. Various socio-economic scenarios of policy implementation were another topic assessed. Important part of discussion was devoted to the request of linking current efforts to other global earth observation activities. That includes the joint effort in the field of development of new databases, models and expert systems. A problem of persistent organic pollutants in developing countries, the old burdens, human risks, available technologies and financial resources was one of those that raised much of the concern.

The workshop declaration has been published in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal.

Detailed program of the workshop including the list of participants, presentations, and photo gallery is provided at:

POPs workshop, Brno 22.5.-24.5.2011


EuCheMS Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention