What is the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants?

The Stockholm Convention is a global treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment from the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Convention entered into force on May 17, 2004.

What are some characteristics of POPs?

  • They are toxic;
  • They have the potential to accumulate in unhealthy quantities in humans and animals;
  • They are stable and thus resistant to natural breakdown; and
  • They can be transported over long distances through the atmosphere and oceans.

POPs have been shown to adversely affect human health and the environment. They have been linked to cancer, damage to the nervous system, reproductive disorders, and weakening of the immune system.

How does the Stockholm Convention Work?

The Stockholm Convention, which currently regulates 23 POPs, requires parties to adopt a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate the release of POPs. For intentionally produced POPs, parties must prohibit or restrict their production and use, subject to certain exemptions such as the continued use of DDT. The Stockholm Convention also requires parties to restrict trade in such substances. For unintentionally produced POPs, the Stockholm Convention requires countries to develop national action plans to address releases and to apply "Best Available Techniques" to control them. The Stockholm Convention also aims to ensure the sound management of stockpiles and wastes that contain POPs.

How does the United States engage?

The United States signed the Stockholm Convention in 2001, but has yet to ratify because we currently lack the authority to implement all of its provisions. The United States participates as an observer in the meetings of the parties and in technical working groups..