Persistent substances resist natural processes of degradation, and so can remain in the environment long term, even after production and use of a substance has ceased. They can be distributed at long range, and can be detected at great distances from the original sites of release. Accumulation of these substances in fatty tissues of living organisms can lead to a magnification effect in the food chain. As a result, pollutants have been detected in humans and wildlife around the world. The combination of long-term stability and bioaccumulation potential together with evidence of toxicity has clear implications for environmental safety.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic substances (PBTs) are terms which are commonly used. Very persistent and bioaccumulative (vPvB) substances are also of concern.

This topic provides information on the substances that appear on the listing of POPs in the Stockholm Convention, along with information on definitions and where to find information.

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