Daily Hot Topic
Topic : Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
GS-3 Mains  : Environmental Pollution
Revision Notes



  • A new study (2024?) found a decline in Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and 11 other POPs in humans and the environment since 2004, likely due to global regulations.


  • POPs were detected in over 900 samples collected from various sources (air, water, human milk, soil, meat, dairy, eggs, fish, oil, etc.).
  • Levels of 12 POPs, including DDT, have decreased globally, likely due to regulations implemented since 2004.
  • Other POPs, like dieldrin and PCBs (regulated for a long time), are still present at high levels in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

What are POPs?

  • POPs are organic (carbon-based) chemical substances.
  • They resist degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes.

Key Characteristics of POPs

  • Persistence: POPs can last for years or decades in the environment without breaking down.
  • Bioaccumulation: POPs accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms as they move up the food chain, leading to higher concentrations in humans.
  • Long-range transport: POPs can travel long distances from their source through air and water currents.
  • Toxicity: Many POPs are harmful to humans and wildlife, causing cancer, reproductive problems, immune system disruption, and neurological effects.

Examples of POPs

  • Pesticides (e.g., DDT)
  • Industrial chemicals (e.g., PCBs)
  • Unintentional by-products of industrial processes (e.g., dioxins and furans)

Sources of POP Pollution

  • Improper use and disposal of agrochemicals and industrial chemicals
  • Elevated temperatures and combustion processes
  • Unwanted by-products of industrial processes or combustion

Regulation of POPs

  • Stockholm Convention (2004): Aims to reduce global POPs releases.
  • Rotterdam Convention (2004): Promotes shared responsibility for safe import and use of hazardous chemicals.
  • Basel Convention (1992): Protects human health and the environment from hazardous waste.
  • LRTAP Convention & POPs Protocol (2003): Aims to limit and reduce air pollution, including POPs.

Source : https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/ddt-levels-have-declined-in-humans-environment-since-2004-but-those-of-other-persistent-organic-pollutants-rising-un-96724#:~:text=Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane%20(DDT,said%20on%20June%2017%2C%202024

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