Global Study Reveals Decline in POPs but Highlights Rising PFAS Levels

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Nairobi, 17 June 2024 – A new UN study reports a significant decline in 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including DDT, regulated globally since 2004. However, replacements for these POPs, such as PFAS, are now found at high levels in water and human milk.

POPs, known for their long-term persistence in the environment, are linked to severe health issues like cancer, liver damage, and decreased fertility. The study, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and conducted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), monitored POPs across 42 countries, revealing their presence in air, water, soil, food, and human milk.

Andrea Hinwood, UNEP’s Chief Scientist, emphasized the need for continued POPs monitoring, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to support informed decision-making. Despite regulatory efforts, POPs remain ubiquitous, necessitating vigilance in addressing newer substitutes with similar hazardous properties.

As governments convene in Geneva to discuss a science-policy panel on chemicals, the study underscores the importance of sustainable industrial practices and consumer awareness to prevent further contamination. UNEP continues to support global efforts to monitor and mitigate the impact of these harmful substances.

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