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Fourteenth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee under the Stockholm Convention

September 26, 2018

From September 17 to 21, 2018, the Fourteenth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC.14) was held in Rome, the Italian Republic, to discuss issues related to substances subject to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Convention).

At POPRC.14, member countries decided to submit a recommendation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) in order to additionally list perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds in Annex A of the Convention, as substances to be eliminated under the POPs Convention. Moreover, they decided to move perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts and PFHxS-related compounds to the risk management discussion and evaluation phase.

Furthermore, they reviewed the acceptable purposes and specific exemptions for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctanesulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF).

1. Background

The POPs Convention aims to control POPs, which are persistent in the environment, bioaccumulative, and are highly toxic to human beings and living organisms, and which are thought to be transported long distances from their places of release or intended use (e.g., polychlorinated bipheny (PCB) and 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis (4-chlorophenyl) ethane (DDT)). The convention stipulates provisions concerning the elimination or limiting of manufacturing and use, and reduction of emissions as a result of unintended production.

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) comprised of 31 experts from member countries, is an organization that discusses whether or not certain substances should be listed under the POPs Convention and submits recommendations to the COP on listing of substances that have been proposed by member countries, after undertaking three procedures: [i] screening the proposed substances, [ii] risk profiling to scrutinize hazards related to or caused by the proposed substances, and [iii] examining the need for a risk management evaluation.

Following the determination by the COP, member countries are required to regulate the manufacturing and use of the target substances. Japan controls such substances under the Act on the Evaluation of Chemical Substances and Regulation of Their Manufacture, etc.

2. Details determined at POPRC.14

From September 17 to 21, 2018, POPRC.14 was held in Rome, the Italian Republic, and as representatives of Japan, Mr. Mineo Takatsuki, Visiting Researcher, Integrated Institute for Regulatory Science, Waseda University, as a POPRC member; and officials in charge of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and domestic experts as observers, attended the meeting. The details determined at POPRC.14 are as follows:

(1) Additional listing of substances in Annex A

[i] PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds (proposal: European Union)

Major use of these substances: Assistants for fluoropolymer processing, surfactants, etc.
POPRC.14 held discussions on the need for risk management evaluations and the position of these substances under the POPs Convention (i.e., “elimination” of manufacturing and use) and decided to list these substances in Annex A, as substances to be eliminated under the POPs Convention, with exemptions for the use of perfluorooctane iodide (PFOI) to manufacture perfluorooctane bromide (PFOB) in manufacturing medical products and its use in fire-fighting foams that have already been installed in facilities, and determined to recommend this listing to the COP.

(2) Examination of substances in question

[i] PFHxS, its salts and PFHxS-related compounds (proposal: Norway)

Major use of these substances: Assistants for fluoropolymer processing, surfactants, etc.
POPRC.14 considered the risk profile for these substances, held discussions on their persistence, concentrations, long-range transport and toxic properties and, as a result, concluded that PFHxS may have serious adverse impacts, taking into consideration the ecological impact on animals at the top of the food chain. Finally, they decided to move this issue to the risk-management discussion and evaluation phase at the next POPRC.

(3) Other discussions

[i] Evaluation of alternatives for PFOS, its salts and PFOSF

Major use of these substances as basis for exemptions: Etching agents or resistors for semiconductors.
POPRC.14 reviewed the acceptable uses and specific exemptions for PFOS, its salts and PFOSF under Paragraphs 5 and 6, Part III, Annex B (restriction) and decided to submit a recommendation concerning this review to the COP.

3. Future schedule

The 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention* (COP9), a meeting based on the results of POPRC.13 and POPRC.14, will be held in Geneva from the end of April to early May in 2019. The next POPRC (POPRC.15) will be held in Rome from the end of September to early October, in 2019.

References: Related websites

Division in Charge

Chemical Management Policy Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau