Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

The Problem

Persistent Organic Pollutants Management in the Caribbean

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are a group of toxic organic chemicals commonly found in some household products and chemicals, industrial chemicals and waste disposal sites and which have negative effects on human health and long-term wellness and the environment. Once released into the environment, these chemicals remain intact for long periods of time and become widely distributed geographically.

Sound management of chemicals and wastes containing POPs is a challenge for the Caribbean where increased consumerism and a shift in regional economies from agriculture to tourism and industrial economies have resulted in greater usage of these chemicals and the generation of larger, more complex categories of solid, hazardous and chemical wastes containing POPs. Further challenges surround the lack of capacity and infrastructure to support the environmentally sound management, treatment and disposal of POPs related hazardous waste streams. Furthermore, the low level of awareness on the dangers of POPs by the public and other key agencies adds to the region’s challenges with effectively reducing and eliminating the threats of POPs.

Brominated Flame Retardants (PBDEs and HBCD)

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

POPs Pesticides

Substances or chemicals added to some consumer products to reduce flammability or to slow the spread of fire. PBDEs and HBCD may be included in products such as: plastic casings of some electronics, plastics and foams of vehicles (manufactured pre-2004), polyurethane foams in furniture, etc.

Man-made organic chemicals manufactured from 1929 to 1979 and used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications. PCBs may be found in: transformers and capacitors, some old electrical equipment, devices and appliances containing PCB capacitors and emissions from the burning of copper cables.

The production and use of sixteen (16) POPs containing pesticides historically used on farms and in home gardens are to be eliminated as per the Stockholm Convention. These include pesticides such as: Aldrin, DDT, Lindane and Mirex.

Perfluorooctane-sulfonic Acid (PFOS)

Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs)

Find out how to Stop the POPs!

Man-made chemicals used in a range of common household products due to its resistance to natural degradation and its ability to repel oil, grease and water. PFOS may be found in: some firefighting foams, stain-resistant carpets, non-stick pans/utensils, cardboard boxes and greaseproof packaging.

Emitted as the by-products of chemical or combustion processes involving organic matter and chlorine or as the by-products of manufacturing other chemicals. UPOPs include: dioxins, furans, HCB, HCBD, PeCB, PCBs and PCNs.

Visit the BCRC-Caribbean’s website, to learn more about Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), their sources, their effects on human health and the environment and what you can do to Stop the POPs. Find videos, brochures, games and more!

POPs Projects in the Caribbean