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Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

The 1998 Aarhus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)  

The Executive Body adopted the Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants on 24 June 1998 in Aarhus (Denmark).  It focuses on a list of 16 substances that have been singled out according to agreed risk criteria.  The substances comprise eleven pesticides, two industrial chemicals and three by-products/contaminants. The ultimate objective is to eliminate any discharges, emissions and losses of POPs. The Protocol bans the production and use of some products outright (aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl, mirex and toxaphene).  Others are scheduled for elimination at a later stage (DDT, heptachlor, hexaclorobenzene, PCBs). Finally, the Protocol severely restricts the use of DDT, HCH (including lindane) and PCBs. The Protocol includes provisions for dealing with the wastes of products that will be banned.  It also obliges Parties to reduce their emissions of dioxins, furans, PAHs and HCB below their levels in 1990 (or an alternative year between 1985 and 1995). For the incineration of municipal, hazardous and medical waste, it lays down specific limit values.

On 18 December 2009, Parties to the Protocol on POPs adopted decisions 2009/1, 2009/2 and 2009/3 to amend the Protocol to include seven new substances: hexachlorobutadiene, octabromodiphenyl ether, pentachlorobenzene, pentabromodiphenyl ether, perfluorooctane sulfonates, polychlorinated naphthalenes and short-chain chlorinated paraffins. Furthermore, the Parties revised obligations for DDT, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene and PCBs as well as emission limit values (ELVs) from waste incineration. Parallel to this, with a view to facilitating the Protocol’s ratification by countries with economies in transition, the Parties introduced flexibility for these countries regarding the time frames for the application of ELVs and best available technologies (BAT). Finally, the Parties adopted decision 2009/4 to update guidance on BAT to control emissions of POPs in annex V and turn parts of it into a guidance document (ECE/EB.AIR/2009/14). These amendments have not yet entered into force for the Parties that adopted them.

Amendments to the Protocol adopted on 18 December 2009 (Not yet in force):



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Guidance document on best available techniques for reducing emissions of POPs from major stationary sources adopted on 18 December 2009

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Original text of the Protocol

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The amended text of the Protocol (ECE/EB.AIR/104)

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ECE/EB.AIR/104/Corr.1

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Status of ratification


Press release on the Improved regulations on persistent organic pollutants in the UNECE region


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013