Two more toxic chemicals recommended to be eliminated as UN scientific committee paves way for ban on widely-used PFOA

Date: 21 September 2018

As the UN reports that 2.78 million workers worldwide die each year from exposure to toxic substances in unsafe workplaces[1], a UN global scientific committee recommends eliminating two more toxic chemicals, to protect human health and the environment.

The UN Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) held its 14th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, from 17 - 21 September 2018. More than 150 chemicals experts, from all UN regions, attended the meeting.

The Committee recommended to eliminate the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, widely used in domestic non-stick cooking ware and food-processing appliances, surface treatment agents in textiles, paper and paints, and in firefighting foams. The chemical is known to be toxic to humans and the environment with links to major health issues such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and pregnancy-induced hypertension[2].

This recent recommendation, together with the additional recommendation made by the Committee at its previous meeting, held in October 2017, to eliminate the pesticide dicofol[3], will be considered by the next meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP), which will be held in Geneva from 29 April to 10 May 2019.

The theme of the next COP is: Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste. To date, 28 chemicals of global concern have been listed under the Stockholm Convention.

Dicofol is a pesticide similar to DDT, used to control mites on field crops, tea, cotton, fruits and vegetables and ornamentals, highly toxic to fish, birds, aquatic organisms and algae and posing a health risk to humans.

Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, stressed that “The Committee has found that both Dicofol and PFOA satisfy all criteria for listing, has considered additional information, and has made its recommendation, and so the decision to list will be discussed by Parties to the Convention at their next available opportunity, the next COP in April next year. At a time when the sound management of chemicals is high on the public agenda, once again the work of this Committee is shown to be exemplary in its approach and robustness, making recommendations aimed at protecting human health and environment: truly, working for a clean planet and healthy people.”

The Executive Secretary expressed his thanks to the members of the Committee for their hard work, evident from research showing a reduction in some POPs worldwide, according to data collected by the Convention’s Global Monitoring Plan.

Note for Editors:

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on human health or on the environment. Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease and damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. Given their long-range transport, global action is needed to protect citizens and the environment from POPs.

In response to this global problem, the Stockholm Convention, which was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004, requires its Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. As of today, this legally-binding Convention has 182 Parties, giving it almost universal coverage.

For more information, please contact:

  • For POPRC/Stockholm Convention: or contact:
    Kei OHNO WOODALL, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (UNEP), Geneva: +41-79-2333218, +41-22-917-78201,
  • For BRS conventions general media enquiries: or contact:
    Charlie AVIS, Public Information Officer (UN Environment), Geneva +41-79-7304495

[1] From “The Report Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes” A/HRC/39/48, presented 12 September 2018 to the 39th session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva. Available online at: XXX