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The PCBs elimination network: the information exchange platform created for the risk reduction of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  1. Andrea Warmuth,
  2. Kei Ohno
  1. Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Kei Ohno, Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, United Nations Environment Programme, 11-13 Chemin des Anémones, Geneva CH-1219, Switzerland; kohno{at}

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The Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants and polychlorinated biphenyls

The Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is a multilateral environmental agreement aimed at eliminating the intentional production and use and unintentional releases of POPs. POPs are chemicals characterised by their persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects on humans and wildlife. To protect human health and the environment from such chemicals, the Convention was adopted by the international community and entered into force in May 2004.1 ,2 As of March 2012, there were 176 Parties to the Convention.

The Convention currently lists 22 chemicals. Among them are industrial chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); pesticides, such as DDT and endosulfan; and unintentionally released chemicals such as dioxins and furans.

PCBs were used heavily since the 1930s as dielectric fluids in capacitors and transformers and for other applications such as flame retardants, ink solvents and plasticisers. Breivik et al estimated that around 1 325 810 tons of PCBs were produced between 1929 and 1993.3 In the 1970s, their adverse effects on the immune system, liver, skin, reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract and thyroid gland became prominent and their use was phased out. Solomon and Huddle, Silverstone et al, Govarts et al and McAuliffe et al reported recent studies on the toxic effects of PCBs.4–7 Today, PCBs remain common contaminants of animal and human food chains, generally at low concentrations, and diet remains one of the main sources of exposure of the general population.8 …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.