Keywords: chemicals, environmental risk assessment, risk management, chemicals policy, persistence, bioaccumulation, persistent organic pollutants, dangerous substances
White Paper on chemicals and Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants: perspectives for environmental risk management
The ever-growing attention to the environmental risk assessment of chemical substances has had considerable repercussions in the recent agreements reached within the European Union and on the international stage. In the conclusions on the European Commission's White Paper Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy, the Council of the European Union recently referred to the need to include persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic substances (PBT) and very persistent and very bio-accumulative substances (VPVB) among the chemicals which must be subject to authorisation, as soon as the necessary criteria for identifying them have been defined. On 23 May 2001, a few days before the adoption of the Council's conclusions to the White Paper, over 100 national Governments signed the international Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which provides for a common commitment at global level and fixed criteria for identifying new POPs apart from those already known. In this work, the scenarios described by the White Paper are examined, with particular reference to the problems of defining criteria for identifying PBT and VPVB substances, in the light of the criteria already defined for POPs by the Stockholm Convention.