Persistent Organic Pesticides

Authored by: Gamini Manuweera

Managing Global Resources and Universal Processes

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138342637
eBook ISBN: 9780429346132
Adobe ISBN:


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Persistent organic pesticides are part of a larger group of chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants or POPs. In addition to pesticides, POPs include industrial chemicals and unintentionally produced chemical substances or by-products of anthropogenic origin. POPs do not easily undergo common environmental degradation processes. Therefore, once released, these substances remain unchanged in the environment for a very long period of time. High persistence in the environment increases the availability of POPs for long-term exposure to human populations and ecosystems. Furthermore, POPs can undergo long-range transport in the environment. POPs are highly bioaccumulative and, therefore, once exposed are readily taken up by both the fauna and the flora. POPs are also highly toxic to living organisms. The human toxic effects are mainly linked to long-term, low-level exposure scenarios mostly resulting in chronic health problems. A combination of these effects drew the attention on this group of substances at the international level after it became apparent that they travel long distances across borders and cause detrimental effects to human health and the environment. Measures by individual countries were not sufficient to ensure satisfactory protection of human health and the environment from adverse effects of POPs. As a result, a global treaty, now known as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, was created to address the concerns related to POPs. The Stockholm Convention requires Parties to take measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use of POPs by taking necessary legal and administrative measures. The efforts to eliminate POP pesticides should seek alternative approaches that are sustainable. It will be important to ensure that POP pesticides are not simply replaced by other pesticides but that the principles of integrated crop and vector management are adopted with due consideration on related concerns such as the development of pest and vector resistance to alternatives.

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