Friday, February 11, 2005


Persistent organic pollutants, also called POPs, are among the most dangerous chemicals ever created by humans. POPs chemicals include many pesticides, industrial chemicals and chemical byproducts. Despite their different uses and origins, all POPs share basic characteristics that make them an urgent global environmental health problem:

* POPs break down very slowly in soil, air, water and living organisms, and persist in the environment for long periods of time.
* POPs concentrate in the food chain, building up to high levels in the tissues of all living creatures, including humans.
* POPs travel long distances in global air and water currents, and concentrate in high-latitude, low-temperature regions of the globe.
* POPs are linked with serious health effects in humans and other species, including reproductive and developmental illnesses, immune suppression, nervous system disorders, cancers and hormone disruption.

In a few short decades, POPs have spread throughout the environment to threaten human health and damage land and water ecosystems all over the world. Every living organism on earth now carries measurable levels of POPs chemicals in its tissues.

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