Toxic Chemicals

Polychlorinated Biphenyls

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are chemicals which are toxic, persist in the environment, and bioaccumulate in the food chain and listed as persistent organic pollutants under the Stockholm Convention.  These chemicals were used up to the late 1980s in electrical equipment such as transformers, capacitors and switchgear. Directive 96/59/EC (PCB Directive) aims to reduce the risks posed by PCBs to human health and the environment through the environmentally sound disposal of PCBs and certain PCB-contaminated equipment. National regulations (Statutory Instrument 163 of 1998) give statutory effect to the EU PCB Directive.

Additionally holders of certain PCB-contaminated equipment must notify the EPA annually of the use of the equipment. The EPA is required to maintain the register - the National PCB Inventory - of such equipment. Only when the holders of such equipment prove it has been properly disposed of can the equipment be removed from the register.

The EPA works with Local Authorities and national organisations to ensure the requirements of the PCB Directive are fulfilled.

For more information on PCBs view the website www.pcbs.ie.

If you become aware of equipment that could or does contain PCBs please contact the EPA at pcbs@epa.ie.

Persistent Organic Pollutants

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are toxic chemicals that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in the food chain and can be transported long distances mainly by air and water. The Stockholm Convention on POPs aims to protect human health and the environment from POPs. The EU POPs Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 850/2004), implements certain international agreements on POPs within the EU including the Stockholm Convention. National regulations (Statutory Instrument 235 of 2010) give statutory effect to the EU POPs Regulation.

The EPA is designated as the competent authority for implementation of the EU POPs Regulation in Ireland and cooperates with other public authorities in this regard.

The EPA developed the National Implementation Plan on POPs which includes an assessment of POPs in Ireland and measures put in place to protect human health and the environment from POPs listed under the Stockholm Convention. The Plan also outlines further activities that will be carried out to support the control of POPs.

For more information on POPs and Ireland’s National Implementation Plan on POPs, see www.pops.ie.

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