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Persistent organic pollutants (POP’s)

Testing for persistent organic pollutants in soil, solid matrices & biota

Persistent organic pollutants are a group of compounds that have either been produced for a specific purpose, examples are PCB and DDT, or have been unintentionally created during production of other compounds or created by industrial processes. The best known example of this is dioxins.

There is a large number of chemicals or compounds classified as POP's. Initially the "dirty dozen" was the focus. The "dirty dozen" is a group of 12 chemicals or compounds that has been identified as key POP's. The Stockholm convention in 2001 saw over 90 countries agreeing to reduce or eliminate the production, use and/or release of these 12 key POP's. The list was later expanded to include 22 and then 28 compounds. However as new, and often replacement, chemicals are being produced so is the expected number of persistent organic pollutants.

Analytical methods

All of the compounds of concern can be tested by an ALS laboratory. While many of the original "dirty dozen" are tested as standard by most ALS laboratories other compounds like dioxins, PFAS and chlorinated paraffins, are tested at dedicated laboratories strategically located in all regions.

To be able to cover all the 28 compounds a number of methods and instruments are used.

POP's analysis:
  • Aldrin
  • Endrin
  • Mirex
  • Chlordane
  • Heptachlor
  • Toxaphene
  • Dieldrin
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • PCB
  • DDT
  • Dioxins and Furans
  • Hexachlorobenzene
  • Hexachlorocyclohexanes
  • Chlordecone
  • Hexabromobiphenyl
  • Hexabromocyclododecane
  • Tetrabromodiphenyl ether
  • Pentabromodiphenyl ether
  • Hexabromodiphenyl ether
  • Heptabromodiphenyl ether
  • Octabromodiphenyl ether
  • Decabromodiphenyl ether
  • Hexachlorobutadiene
  • Lindane
  • Pentachlorobenzene
  • Pentachlorophenol
  • PFOS
  • Polychlorinated naphtalenes
  • Endosulfan
  • Short-chain chlorinated paraffins

Persistent organic pollutants, what are they?

Stockholm convention

In 2001, 91 countries signed the Stockholm convention agreeing that the 12 identified persistent organic pollutants known as the ‘dirty dozen’ should be phased out due to their potential harm to human health and the environment. The list has later been expanded to 28 compounds and there are others under review. On the Stockholm conventions website you can read more about the work that has been done.

Click here to visit the Stockholm convention website.