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Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

 

For the past decade the European Community has grown very concerned regarding the neglect of its Member States towards the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The concern stems from the fact that these chemicals are relatively stable, giving them the ability to be transboundary pollutants; that is, they may travel to regions which have no relation to them (such as the polar icecaps). This is coupled with their feasibility to enter the food chain, becoming more potent as they move from one organism to another - this is referred to as bioconcentration and bioaccumulation. Seeing that most POPs were originally used as pesticides, they were allowed to enter groundwater systems and food chains without much resistance.

 

POPs under Surveillance and Control

At present there are a total of twenty-two officially monitored POPs recognised by the Stockholm Convention. These are the following:

  1. Aldrin
  2. Chlordane
  3. Chlordecone
  4. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroeathane
  5. Dieldrin
  6. Endosulfan and its isomers
  7. Endrin
  8. Heptachlor
  9. Hexabromobiphenyl
  10. Hexa/heptabromodiphenyl ether
  11. Hexachlorobenzene (HCBs)
  12. Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane
  13. Beta hexachlorocyclohexane
  14. Lindane
  15. Mirex
  16. Pentachlorobenzene
  17. Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride
  18. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  19. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs)
  20. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-furans (PCDFs)
  21. Tetra/pentabromodiphenyl ether
  22. Toxaphene

Nevertheless, the European Community goes beyond what is expected from its Member States by adding "extra" chemicals which it also considers problematic in order to achieve better sustainable development. Indeed, the EU wishes for more emphasis to be placed on the concept of development which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising those of the future generation. Thus, in 2004 the Regulation (EC) No. 850/2004 - often termed the "POP Regulation" - was established, coming into force on 30th April of the same year. This document required action to be taken on the aforementioned POPs together with:

  1.  Hexachlorobutadiene
  2. Short Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs)
  3. Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  4. Polychlorinated Naphtalenes (PCN)

 

rEGULATION AND oBLIGATIONS

Although a significant number of these pollutants have either been adequately replaced, restricted or altogether banned from the EU market for all except critical requirements, the majority are still circulating or being produced as waste/by-products without proper monitoring. Consequently, the MCCAA has taken responsibility for these chemicals in Malta with the intention of yielding to the Regulation as feasibly and swiftly as possible. This authority will be working in close communication with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) which has taken upon itself to oversee the environmental emissions and waste disposal which are relevant to POPs. The tasks which will fall under the authority of the MCCAA are:

  • Controlling the production, placing on the market and the use of POPs (Article 3)
  • Determining exemptions from the aforementioned control (Article 4)
  • Managing of stockpiles (storages) containing/contaminated by POPs(Article 5)
  • Reducing, minimising or eliminating the release of these chemicals (Article 6)
  • Devising an implementation plan (Article 8)
  • Exchanging data with the public and other States regarding POPs (Article 10)
  • Offering developing countries financial and technical assistance (Article 11)
  • Reporting relevant inventories and Regulation infringements(Article 12 & 13)

 

In the case of exempted chemicals/articles, please complete the appropriate form which may be found in the section "Downloadable Forms".

Please send the completed form to the following address:

Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA)
'Mizzi House',
National Road,
Blata l-Bajda. HMR 9010

Tel: 2395 2000

 

Future Actions

Seeing the need for further improvements within its Community, the Commission sees the Regulation as a live document. New chemicals are constantly being researched so as to determine their longevity and whether or not they fall within the remit of the POP Regulation. The MCCAA plans on not only rectifying this Regulation but also keeping the country up-to-date with any newly proposed chemicals or obligations.

 

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