A Small Dose of Persistent Environmental Contaminants

  • An Introduction to the Health Effects of Persistent Environmental Contaminants


Persistent Environmental Contaminants Dossier

Name: Persistent Environmental Contaminants

  • Have various names depending on agency - e.g. U.S. EPA: Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) or United Nations: Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP)
  • Use: varies, often restricted or banned (but still present in the environment)
  • Source: industry, waste sites, food chain, and environment
  • Recommended daily intake: none (not essential)
  • Absorption: varies
  • Sensitive individuals: fetus, children, elderly, all species accumulate PBTs
  • Toxicity/symptoms: range of toxic effects including developmental, learning and memory, cancer
  • Regulatory facts: various local, national, and international agencies working to eliminate or greatly reduce
  • General facts: long history of use, bioaccumulates
  • Environmental: global environmental contaminants
  • Recommendations: avoid, work towards phaseouts

Persistent Environmental Contaminants Chapter

PowerPoint Presentation

More Information and References

European, Asian, and International Agencies

  • European Commission. Environment. Website deals with the registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Chemicals and Waste. Information on international efforts to reduce persistent pollutants.
  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. "The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, and accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and wildlife."

North American Agencies

  • Health Canada. Chemical Substances Online. Health Canada provides information on the health effects and environmental distribution of chemical substances in Canada.
  • US Geological Survey. This site contains information and maps on the use of pesticides across the US both as contaminants and crop use.
  • US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Integrated Pest Management. Site provides information and other links on IPM.

Non-government Organizations

  • Environmental Health Research Foundation (EHRF). Biomonitoring Info. "A resource for policymakers, scientists, educators, workers, journalists and the public on the nature and promise of biomonitoring."
  • Pesticide Action Network UK. PAN UK works to eliminate the dangers of toxic pesticides, exposure to them, and their presence in the environment in Europe.
  • Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC). WTC provides information on model pesticide policies, alternatives to home pesticides, information on persistent chemical pollutants, and much more.
  • Beyond Pesticides. "Beyond Pesticides is a national network committed to pesticide safety and the adoption of alternative pest management strategies which reduce or eliminate a dependency on toxic chemicals."


  • Wargo, John. Our Children's Toxic Legacy: How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us from Pesticides 2nd edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
  • Atkin, J. and Klaus M. Leisinger (Editors). Safe and Effective Use of Crop Protection Products in Developing Countries. Wallingford: CABI Publishing, 2000.
  • National Research Council. Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Chemicals. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2006.



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