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 (POPs) in Aarhus (Denmark) on 24 June 1998. 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 (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), heptachlor, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexaclorobenzene). 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, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and hexachlorobenzene (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.

In 2001, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was adopted, a treaty negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Building on the 1998 Aarhus Protocol, the Stockholm Convention raised the profile of POPs to the global level.

In 2009, Parties to the Protocol on POPs adopted decisions 2009/1 and 2009/2 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) for waste incineration. In addition and with a view to facilitating the Protocol’s ratification by countries with economies in transition, the Parties introduced flexibilities for these countries regarding the time frames for the application of ELVs and best available technologies (BAT). Finally, the Parties adopted decisions 2009/3 and 2009/4 to update guidance on BAT to control emissions of POPs in annex V and turn parts of it into a guidance document, as contained in annex VII. 

The amendments to annexes V and VII entered into force for most of the Parties on 13 December 2010. In line with article 14, paragraph 3, the entry into force of the amendments to the text of the Protocol and to its annexes I, II, III, IV, VI and VIII requires ratification of two thirds of the Parties. The amendments according to decisions 2009/1 (amending the text of and annexes I, II, III, IV, VI and VIII) and 2009/2 (amending annexes I and II) require separate ratifications. Those amendments have not yet entered into force.

TitleENGFRERUSStatusEntry into force

The 1998 Aarhus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)  

The 1998 Aarhus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), as amended on 18 December 2009  PDFPDFPDF

Annex I, II


Not yet in force except for Annexes V and VII: 13/12/2010

Further information:

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