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Persistent Problem: Global Challenges to Managing PCBs

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MELYMUK Lisa Emily BLUMENTHAL Jonathan SÁŇKA Ondřej SHU-YIN Adriana SINGLA Veena ŠEBKOVÁ Kateřina FEDINICK Kristi Pullen DIAMOND Miriam Leah

Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords polychlorinated biphenyls; Stockholm Convention; chemicals management; persistent organic pollutants; PCB stocks; environmentally sound management; Canada; Czechia; USA
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Description Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), "famous" as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), have been managed nationally since the 1970s and globally under the Stockholm Convention on POPs since 2004, requiring environmentally sound management (ESM) of PCBs by 2028. At most, 30% of countries are on track to achieve ESM by 2028. Globally over 10 million tonnes of PCB-containing materials remain, mostly in countries lacking the ability to manage PCB waste. Canada (Ontario) and Czechia, both parties to the Stockholm Convention, are close to achieving the 2028 goal, having reduced their stocks of pure PCBs by 99% in the past 10 years. In contrast, the USA, not a party to the Stockholm Convention, continues to have a substantial but poorly inventoried stock of PCBs and only similar to 3% decrease in mass of PCBs since 2006. PCB management, which depends on Stockholm Convention support and national compliance, portends major challenges for POP management. The failure to manage global PCB stocks >30 years after the end of production highlights the urgent need to prioritize reducing production and use of newer, more widely distributed POPs such as chlorinated paraffins and per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, as these management challenges are unlikely to be resolved in the coming decades.
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