POPs Review Committee Process:
Assessing New POPs
Chemicals with POP like chatacteristics pose an unacceptable threat to human health and the environment. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) established a 'science based' process for identifying candidate POPs. The process applies the 'precautionary principle' by recognising that there does not have to be absolute proof that a chemical is doing harm before action on it is taken. The Stockholm Convention (Article 8 and Annexes D, E, F) established the rules for identifying and listing additional POPs and set up the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to review nominations for new POPs.
1 July 2008 - Chair sends revised final drafts to Sect and WG
4 July 2008 - Secretary sends drafts for editing and translation
27 August 2008 - Drafts edited and translated
1 September 2008 - Sect distributes final drafts in 6 UN languages
13 � 17 October 2008 - Fourth Meeting of POPRC
4 � 8 May 2009 - Conference of the Parties (COP) 4.
The members of the first the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) were appointed by the First Conference of the Parties (COP1) of the Stockholm Convention (May 2005, Uruguay) on the basis of "equitable geographical distribution, taking into account gender and the need for a balance between different types of expertise."
The POPRC consist of 31 members:
- African States: 8
- Asian and Pacific States: 8
- Central and Eastern European States: 3
- Latin American and Caribbean States: 5
- Western European and other States: 7
Members of the POPRC are "government-designated experts in chemical assessment or management." To ensure effective rotation of the membership, one half of the members of each region were nominated for an initial term of two years, and the remaining members of each region were nominated for an initial term of four years.
The Process in Detail
The assessment of candidate POPs occurs in three main stages.
STAGE 1: Nomination and POPs Criteria
A country party nominates a chemical in writing. If the proposal includes the required information, the POPRC at their next annual meeting consider whether the nominated chemical fulfills the criteria (POP-like characteristics) as outlined in Annex D 'Information Requirements & Screening Requirements'.
This include information on the chemical identity, its, persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long range transport and adverse effects.
Where possible, the nominating party should provide a comparison of toxicity and ecotoxicity data with detected or predicted levels The POPRC must then decide based on this information whether the nominated chemical and its transformation products show evidence of these POPs characteristics.
STAGE 2: The Risk Profile
If the POPRC find the chemicals fulfills the POPs criteria, a risk profile based on the information in Annex E 'Information Requirements for the Risk Profile' is then prepared. Working groups are formed with POPRC members and observers from industry and NGOs,
The Secretariat then calls for information as described by Annex E. This includes information on:
- sources, production quantity, location, uses & releases
- hazard assessments & chemical interactions
- properties, environmental fate, transport, degradation, bioconcentration and bioaccumulation factors (BCF, BAFs)
- monitoring data, exposure, bio-availability
- risk evaluations, labelling, classifications and status under other regulatory regimes
The working group then prepares a draft Risk Profile and calls for comments on draft from Country Parties and observers. The risk profile is finalised at next POPRC meeting
The Working group prepare a draft Risk Profile and call for comments on draft from Parties and observers. The risk profile is finalised at next POPRC meeting.
STAGE 3: The Risk Management Evaluation
If on the basis of the risk profile, the POPRC decides that the chemical is 'likely as a result of its long range transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects, such that global action is warranted' then the chemical moves to the next stage.
Importantly, the lack of full scientific certainty cannot prevent the proposal from proceeding.
The Secretariat calls for the submission of Annex F 'Information on Socio-Economic Considerations' including information on:
- the efficacy and efficiency of possible control measures including their technical feasibility, environmental and health costs
- the technical feasibility of alternatives, their environmental and health costs
- their efficacy, risks, availability and accessibility
- the societal impacts of any control measures
- the waste and disposal costs, their technical feasibility
- information access and public education
- control and monitoring capacity
- national and regional controls
POPRC will then begin the preparation of a Risk Management Evaluation based on the information outlined in Annex F.
The Risk Management Evaluation lists any uses of the nominated chemical where there may be no feasible alternatives and those uses requiring time to phase in alternatives. It may also propose exemptions. The Draft Risk Management Evaluation is finalised at annual POPRC meeting.
Based on the Risk Management Evaluation, the POPRC prepares a recommendation to Conference of Parties whether substance should be listed and suggests possible control measures as well as the appropriate listing in Annexes A, B and / or C.
The Conference of the Parties (all the countries that have ratified the Convention) make the final decision on whether to list a chemical as a POP.
If the proposal is rejected, it can be resubmitted or the decision can be challenged by the nominating country.
There are many chemicals with POP-like characteristics which need priority consideration. Some are already scheduled for elimination through countries' national action or regional treaties like the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) on POPs and the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR). The listing of a chemical on the Stockholm Convention, which is an international agreement, will ensure that they are eventually banned throughout the globe.
INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS AND SCREENING CRITERIA
1. A Party submitting a proposal to list a chemical in Annexes A, B and/or C shall identify the chemical in the manner described in subparagraph (a) and provide the information on the chemical, and its transformation products where relevant, relating to the screening criteria set out in subparagraphs (b) to (e):
(ii) Structure, including specification of isomers, where applicable, and the structure of the chemical class;
(ii) Evidence that the chemical is otherwise sufficiently persistent to justify its consideration within the scope of this Convention;
(ii) Evidence that a chemical presents other reasons for concern, such as high bio-accumulation in other species, high toxicity or ecotoxicity; or
(iii) Monitoring data in biota indicating that the bio-accumulation potential of the chemical is sufficient to justify its consideration within the scope of this Convention;
(ii) Monitoring data showing that long-range environmental transport of the chemical, with the potential for transfer to a receiving environment, may have occurred via air, water or migratory species; or
(iii) Environmental fate properties and/or model results that demonstrate that the chemical has a potential for long-range environmental transport through air, water or migratory species, with the potential for transfer to a receiving environment in locations distant from the sources of its release. For a chemical that migrates significantly through the air, its half-life in air should be greater than two days; and
(ii) Toxicity or ecotoxicity data that indicate the potential for damage to human health or to the environment.
2. The proposing Party shall provide a statement of the reasons for concern including, where possible, a comparison of toxicity or ecotoxicity data with detected or predicted levels of a chemical resulting or anticipated from its long-range environmental transport, and a short statement indicating the need for global control.
3. The proposing Party shall, to the extent possible and taking into account its capabilities, provide additional information to support the review of the proposal referred to in paragraph 6 of Article 8. In developing such a proposal, a Party may draw on technical expertise from any source.
INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS FOR THE RISK PROFILE
The purpose of the review is to evaluate whether the chemical is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects, such that global action is warranted. For this purpose, a risk profile shall be developed that further elaborates on, and evaluates, the information referred to in Annex D and includes, as far as possible, the following types of information:
(ii) Uses; and
(iii) Releases, such as discharges, losses and emissions;
(c) Environmental fate, including data and information on the chemical and physical properties of a chemical as well as its persistence and how they are linked to its environmental transport, transfer within and between environmental compartments, degradation and transformation to other chemicals. A determination of the bio-concentration factor or bio-accumulation factor, based on measured values, shall be available, except when monitoring data are judged to meet this need;
(d) Monitoring data;
(e) Exposure in local areas and, in particular, as a result of long-range environmental transport, and including information regarding bio-availability;
(f) National and international risk evaluations, assessments or profiles and labelling information and hazard classifications, as available; and
(g) Status of the chemical under international conventions.
INFORMATION ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
An evaluation should be undertaken regarding possible control measures for chemicals under consideration for inclusion in this Convention, encompassing the full range of options, including management and elimination. For this purpose, relevant information should be provided relating to socioeconomic considerations associated with possible control measures to enable a decision to be taken by the Conference of the Parties. Such information should reflect due regard for the differing capabilities and conditions among the Parties and should include consideration of the following indicative list of items:
(ii) Costs, including environmental and health costs;
(ii) Costs, including environmental and health costs;
(v) Availability; and
(ii) Agriculture, including aquaculture and forestry;
(iii) Biota (biodiversity);
(iv) Economic aspects;
(v) Movement towards sustainable development; and
(vi) Social costs;
(f) Status of control and monitoring capacity; and
(g) Any national or regional control actions taken, including information on alternatives, and other relevant risk management information.