B2.1.4 The Aarhus Protocol on POPs


Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) resist degradation under natural conditions and have been associated with adverse effects on human health and the environment.

The POPs Protocol was adopted in Aarhus, Denmark. The Protocol came into effect on 23 October 2003. It is one of eight protocols that extend the provisions of the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution.

The protocol aims to control, reduce or eliminate discharge, emissions and losses of persistent organic pollutants. It focuses on a list of 16 substances chosen according to agreed risk criteria. The substances include 11 pesticides, 2 industrial chemicals and 3 by-products/contaminants.

The Protocol:

  • Bans the production and use of some products completely, including aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dieldrin, endrin, hexabromobiphenyl, mirex and toxaphene.
  • Severely restricts the use of some substances, including DDT, HCH (including lindane) and PCBs.
  • Scheduled certain substances for elimination at a later stage, including DDT, heptachlor, hexaclorobenzene and PCBs.
  • Includes provisions for dealing with the wastes of products that will be banned.
  • Requires the reduction of dioxins, furans, PAHs and HCB emissions to below their 1990 levels.
  • Sets specific limit values for the incineration of municipal, hazardous and medical waste.


There was no need for the UK to introduce any new legislation to implement the requirements of the Protocol.