Persistent organic pollutants monitoring

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are organic chemical substances that are recognized as a serious, global threat to human health and to ecosystems. POPs are substances that specifically:

  • remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years);
  • become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air;
  • accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and
  • are toxic to both humans and wildlife.

In order to provide high quality data on human exposure to POPs and environmental concentration of these hazardous chemicals, the Science and Knowledge Unit undertakes monitoring activities, collects data, conducts scoping exercises and prepares science-based reports.This gathering of information and sharing of scientific knowledge aims to facilitate decision-making in countries.

These monitoring activities are:

  • The implementation of the Global Monitoring Plan (GMP), which aims to generate frequent, comparable and comprehensive data on the presence of POPs in core matrices (ambient air, human milk and surface water).
  • The development and updating of guidance, Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for POPs sampling and analysis.
  • The establishment and updating of the POPs Laboratory Databank, which identifies operational laboratories worldwide and provides information on their capabilities to analyse classes of POPs in different matrices.
  • The realisation of POPs Interlaboratory Assessments, which provide a comparison of laboratories performances on POPs analysis.