Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gains in Reducing Persistent Chemicals May be Lost to Climate Change

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (thankfully called simply POPs) has been working to reduce the emissions of these chemicals for many years.  But a new report suggests that some of the gains made may be reversed by the effects of climate change.  The report, "Climate Change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts" was issued by the United Nations Environment Program last month.

The report notes that:

Significant climate-induced changes are foreseen in relation to future releases of POPs into the environment, their long-range transport and environmental fate, and human and environmental exposure, subsequently leading to higher health risks for both human populations and the environment. The report also addresses the synergies between the climate change and POPs policy agendas and identifies areas of uncertainty and existing gaps in data, information and knowledge.

The report suggests that persistent chemicals, i.e., those that stay in the environment for a long time without breaking down into components of lesser concern, may mobilize from wherever they are and be available for long-range transport.  Warmer temperatures overall could increase emissions of POPs from soil, water, and ice, which could have significant ramifications.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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