The Union Environment Ministry on March 5, 2018 notified new Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Rules, 2018 that ban the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of the seven toxic chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention.
India signed the Stockholm Convention in May 2002 and ratified it in January 2006. The convention mainly aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of all intentionally produced POPs found in industrial chemicals and pesticides.
What are Persistent Organic Pollutants (PoPs)?
• The POPs are organic chemical substances, which are toxic to both humans and wildlife.
• Once released into the environment, the pollutants remain intact for years on and become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and air.
• The pollutants also accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms including human beings.
• Currently, due to human activities, the pollutants are widely distributed over large regions of the world including areas where they were never used.
• The POPs are recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as Group 1 carcinogens or cancer-causing substances.
Effects of PoPs
The effects of POPs include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity.
The pollutants can also cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, lead to reproductive disorders and disrupt the immune system.
The 7 banned chemicals include:
Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether
Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether
According to the new rules, the industrial units handling these chemicals or persons in possession of these chemicals would have to declare the total quantity of the chemicals, which are in use and their stockpiles to the Environment ministry within six months, by September 2018.
The notification by the Ministry also stated that these industrial units or persons “shall not drain or discharge or dispose of the chemicals directly or indirectly in effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, onto any land, in public sewers, in inland surface water or in marine coastal areas”.
However, the rules allowed the usage, sale and import of the chemicals in quantities as required for research and development activities in universities and research institutions after the approval of the Environment Ministry.