Explanation of Key Trends - Persistent Organic Pollutants

Last updated on 16 Oct 2015 06:19 (cf. Authors)

Please note: Data for persistent organic pollutants may have issues such as missing sources. It features considerably higher uncertainties then data for other pollutants covered in this report. Read more...

Obligations

The 1998 Aarhus Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants under the CLRTAP entered into force late in 2003. 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 Germany to reduce its emissions of dioxins, furans, PAHs and HCB below their levels in 1990. For the incineration of municipal, hazardous and medical waste, it lays down specific limit values.

Main drivers

Persistent organic pollutants give a mixed picture both in terms of development and sources. All POP emissions decreased substantially between 1990 and 2012, HCHs (lindane etc.) were banned and totally faded out by 1998, on the other side of the spectrum HCB emissions only went down by 33% in the same interval.

As for sources, some pollutants stick mainly to one or two category, e.g. benzo(a)pyrene and PAHs to Residential Fuel Combustion (NFR 1.A.4.b), PCBs to Metal Production (NFR 2.C), or benzo(b|k)fluoranthene to the Fugitive Emissions from Solid Fuels (NFR 1.B.1) and Road Transport (NFR 1.A.3.b). Others appear all over the place in NFR 1 & 2, e.g. dioxins, especially after the initial years which saw huge reductions.

Trends

The figure below shows mixed trends for persistent organic pollutants1:

The table below depicts the persistent organic pollutants emission trends (please note pollutant specific units!):

Pollutant (kg) 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Benzo(a)pyren 138722.8 101957.0 74570.6 69442.0 60068.1 47892.3 44541.6 41834.3 35380.3 32997.4
Benzo(b)fluoranthen 3189.7 2713.0 2263.1 1624.3 1317.4 1327.7 1292.4 1292.8 1309.1 1326.5
Benzo(k)fluoranthen 1814.0 1593.8 1392.9 1086.4 938.2 956.6 935.8 939.1 963.5 995.3
Indeno(1|2|3-cd)pyren 1306.4 1149.3 998.8 782.3 663.8 671.9 664.6 662.8 667.9 681.0
PAH Total 377554.6 295343.9 225982.4 204040.2 174620.5 164624.4 155418.7 178230.9 165308.9 161663.7
PCB 1680.4 1693.7 1669.7 1655.0 1644.3 1483.6 1242.7 1263.6 1187.7 1064.2
Dioxine (Teq) 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
HCB 5.4 5.3 5.1 5.1 4.8 4.6 4.4 4.6 4.6 4.7
Pollutant (kg) 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Benzo(a)pyren 30562.9 31536.9 27986.2 26071.8 23490.1 23390.9 24577.8 23251.5 25764.8 27307.4
Benzo(b)fluoranthen 1318.2 1261.9 1245.4 1217.7 1218.3 1194.9 1221.3 1216.8 1204.6 1187.3
Benzo(k)fluoranthen 995.4 948.4 928.5 902.9 894.1 873.1 901.3 892.2 879.8 863.1
Indeno(1|2|3-cd)pyren 670.6 664.6 666.5 653.8 671.6 661.1 669.2 671.1 664.0 661.5
PAH Total 157825.1 167494.8 157816.4 156315.4 148226.7 145643.2 151995.1 146305.6 159246.8 167573.2
PCB 948.4 752.1 567.5 388.0 188.1 194.1 210.6 211.6 219.6 198.1
Dioxine (Teq) 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
HCB 4.5 4.3 3.9 3.5 3.0 3.0 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.3
Pollutant (kg) 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Benzo(a)pyren 34054.7 29700.2 27774.9 28386.0
Benzo(b)fluoranthen 1221.0 1233.5 1237.2 1267.2
Benzo(k)fluoranthen 900.4 906.5 922.5 944.5
Indeno(1|2|3-cd)pyren 669.4 682.0 676.4 696.1
PAH Total 207902.7 179146.7 169608.8 172417.7
PCB 233.1 242.8 232.2 232.9
Dioxine (Teq) 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
HCB 3.7 3.5 3.4 3.5
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