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Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution 2010

Part C - Persistent Organic Pollutants

image of Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution 2010
This is one part of a four-volume set that presents a state-of-the-science assessment of the intercontinental transport of air pollutants across the Northern Hemisphere. The first three volumes are technical assessments of the state-of-science with respect to intercontinental transport of ozone and particulate matter, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants. The fourth volume is a synthesis of the main findings and recommendations of Parts A, B, and C organized around a series of policy-relevant questions that were identified at the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution’s first meeting.

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Conceptual overview

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have the unique properties of persistence and bioaccumulation and the ability to cycle through a variety of environmental media. A PCB that one may ingest in a meal and absorb, for instance, may have previously travelled and resided through several environmental media (e.g. air, soil, water) during its lifetime following loss from an electrical plant on the other side of the world many years ago. The levels of POPs in this meal, particularly in the case of ‘higher trophic level’ foods such as fish or meat, may have been multiplied to dangerously high concentrations (biomagnified) because of the manner in which energy and contaminants flow through and accumulate in food chains.

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