Part III POPs-free/POPs alternatives – overview and case studies
According to the “Guidance on considerations related to alternatives and substitutes for listed persistent organic pollutants and candidate chemicals”, (UNEP 2009)[1] prepared by the POPs Review Committee, the objective of promoting the use of alternatives under the Convention is to protect human health and the environment. Unlike the original POPs, and particularly dioxins and POPs pesticides the major exposure pathway for some of the more recently listed POPs such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers may not be mainly from exposure via the food chain. Significant exposures can now include other pathways arising from releases of POPs from furniture, pillows, carpet paddings or polyurethane-filled baby products. In these cases, POPs may contaminate the indoor environment including house dust which can be ingested, particularly by children and infants (Stapleton et al. 2004[2]; Harrad et al. 2006[3]; Stapleton et al. 2008[4]; Johnson et al. 2010[5]; Imm et al. 2009[6]). High POP-PBDE levels in gymnasts who have significant contact with polyurethane foam mats (Carignan et al 2013)[7] or carpet installers (Stapleton et al. 2008)[8] demonstrate contamination from exposure to POP-PBDEs in articles. Even after 40 years, people in housing containing PCBs have considerably higher body burdens compared to the general population (Meyer et al. 2014[9]). In Switzerland approximately 20% of the public swimming pool areas are contaminated from former use of PCB paints and renovations (Knechthofer 2009)[10]. The Swiss regional governments are requested now to develop inventories of PCB contaminated swimming-pool areas by 2017 (Agir 2013)[11].
 
These exposure situations of POPs in articles and products and long term management problems, including the contamination of large material flows and recycling schemes, reinforce the pressing need to substitute POPs in consumer articles with sustainable alternatives. This is an important contribution for the protection of human health and cleaner recycling flows as a basis for a circular economy.  
 
In this section alternatives to the individual POPs, having an exemption for continuing use under the Convention or being otherwise present in products and articles and which can be reduced through substitution by better alternatives or reduced by other means to get products and articles free or virtually free of POPs, are compiled.
 
In the Convention, and in the present document, the term “alternative” is used to denote a chemical, material, product, product design, system, production process or strategy that can replace listed persistent organic pollutants or candidate chemicals, or materials, products, product designs, systems, production processes or strategies that rely on listed persistent organic pollutants or candidate chemicals, while maintaining an acceptable level of efficacy.


[1] UNEP (2009) Guidance on considerations related to alternatives and substitutes for listed persistent organic pollutants and candidate chemicals. UNEP/POPS/POPRC.5/10/Add.1.
[2] Stapleton, H M, Dodder NG, Offenberg JH, Schantz MM, Wise SA. 2004. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in house dust and clothes dryer lint. Environ Sci Technol 39, 925-931.
[3] Harrad S, Hazrati S, Ibarra C. Concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls in indoor air and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in indoor air and dust in Birmingham, United Kingdom: implications for human exposure. Environ Sci Technol 40, 4633–4638.
[4] Stapleton HM, Kelly SM, Allen JG, McClean MD, Webster TF (2008) Measurement of PBDEs on hand wipes: estimating exposure from hand- to-mouth contact. Environ Sci Technol, 42:3329–3334.
[5] Johnson PI, Stapleton HM, Sjodin A, Meeker JD (2010) Relationships between polybrominated diphenyl ether concentrations in house dust and serum. Environ Sci Technol 44: 5627-5632.
[6] Imm P, Knobeloch L, Buelow C, Anderson HA (2009) Household exposures to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (pbdes) in a wisconsin cohort. Environ Health Perspect 117 (12): 1890-5.   Imm et al found that the bromine content in the participant’s sleeping pillow (p-value = 0.005) and primary vehicle seat cushion (p-value = 0.03) were the strongest predictors of PBDE blood concentrations.
[7] Carignan CC, Heiger-Bernays W, McClean MD, Roberts SC, Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Webster TF. (2013) Flame Retardant Exposure among Collegiate United States Gymnasts. Environ Sci Technol. 47:13848-13856.
[8] Stapleton HM, Sjödin A, Jones RS, Niehüser S, Zhang Y, Patterson DG Jr. (2008) Serum levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in foam recyclers and carpet installers working in the United States. Environ Sci Technol. 42:3453-3458.
[9] Meyer HW, Frederiksen M, Göen T, Ebbehoj NE, Gunnarsen L, Brauer C, Kolarik B, Müller J, Jacobsen P (2013) Plasma polychlorinated biphenyls in residents of 91 PCB-contaminated and 108 non-contaminated dwellings—An exposure study, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 216, 755– 762.
[10] Knechtenhofer L (2009) Ein Fünftel der Bäder ist mit PCB belastet. Kommunalmagazin, Bauen und Bauten, Nr. 2 2009.
Kohler, M., Tremp, J., Zennegg, M., Seiler, C., Minder-Kohler, S., Beck, M., ... & Schmid, P. (2005). Joint sealants: an overlooked diffuse source of polychlorinated biphenyls in buildings. Environmental science & technology,39(7), 1967-1973.
[11] AGIR (2013) Schweizer Arbeitsgruppe lnterventionswerte und Risikobeurteilung der Fachstellen Bodenschutz der Kantone Faktenblatt „Belastungen des Bodens durch PCB in Freibädern“ 23.01.2013.
 
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