What are POPs?

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Persistent organic pollutants (“POPs”) are organic chemical substances – they are carbon-based. They possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that, once released into the environment, they: remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years); become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air; accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms, including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and are toxic to both humans and wildlife.

The persistence and mobility of POPs means that they are found widely in the world, even in the alpine and mountainous regions, the Arctic, Antarctica and remote Pacific islands.

Specific effects of POPs can include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. Some POPs are also considered to be endocrine disrupters, which, by altering the hormonal system, can damage the reproductive and immune systems of exposed individuals as well as their offspring; they can also have developmental and carcinogenic effects.

The Stockholm Convention is a global agreement whose objective is to protect human health and the environment from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). These are a group of organic chemicals which have been intentionally produced and introduced into the environment. Due
to their known health and environmental impacts, the Convention requires that Parties adopt and introduce measures to reduce or eliminate releases of POPs into the environment. Kenya is a party to Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and ratified the Stockholm Convention on September 2004. There after developed its first National implementation Plan (NIP) which was adopted in 2007. The convention initially listed 12 POPs, eight of which were pesticides. During the 2009 and 2011 meetings the Conference of Parties (COP) adopted the amendments to Annexes A, B and C to the Stockholm Convention to list ten new POPs of which six were pesticides. The old POPs included Aldrin, Chlordane, Dieldrin, Endrin, Heptachlor, Hexachlorobezen Mirex and
Dichlorodihenyl Trichlorethane. The new POPs are Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, Beta hexachlorocychlohexane, Chlordecone, Lindane, Pentachlorobenzene and Endosulfan.