UPOPs

Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants

In your backyard or even at the dinner table, you may be in contact with Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs) and not even know it. Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of UPOPs may result in skin lesions such as chloracne, patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function.

UPOPs

Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants

In your backyard or even at the dinner table, you may be in contact with Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs) and not even know it. Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of UPOPs may result in skin lesions such as chloracne, patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function.

What are Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs)?

When we burn garbage, UPOPs are formed. Tossing out wires into bonfires? You’ve just created some of the world’s deadly pollutants without even realising it. Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs), example dioxins (PCDD) and furans (PCDF) are a type of POP created from the byproduct of chemical processes or combustion. They offer no commercial benefits but they produce some of the deadliest cancer-causing chemicals known to man.

Why Protect Yourself from UPOPS?

Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of UPOPs may result in skin lesions such as chloracne, patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system, and reproductive functions.

Danger lurks where you least expect it

Understanding the dangers

Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs) are emitted as the by-product of chemical or combustion processes involving organic matter and chlorine. They can also be produced as the by-products of manufacturing other chemicals. Once formed, UPOPs may be released to several environmental media (into the air, water and land) and (process, outputs, products and residues). Food, particularly from animals, is the major route of exposure for humans.

How To Reduce Exposure

Watch out for the following:

Protecting yourself and your loved ones are simpler than you think! Watch out for these common items found at home that may contain UPOPs

PCB related issues

Due to the use of PCBs (for their fire resistant properties) the electrical and power generation industries are particularly susceptible or even influential with PCB related issues

Contaminated material

Exposure due to direct contact with PCB equipment and contaminated material

Firefighting foams

Due to the use of PFOS/PFAS in firefighting foams this industry is particularly susceptible or even influential with PFAS related contamination issues

Recreational

Recreational use of potentially contaminated areas (where fire-fighting foam was used – including fire-fighting practice areas) can expose children to contamination

Stain/Water Resistant Items

Continuous wearing of clothes or use of carpets treated with PFOS for stain and/or water resistant properties

Flame Resistant Uniforms

Continuous wearing of uniforms treated with flame retardants (HBCD in Flame Resistant Uniforms)

PCB related issues

Due to the use of PCBs (for their fire resistant properties) the electrical and power generation industries are particularly susceptible or even influential with PCB related issues

Firefighting foams

Due to the use of PFOS/PFAS in firefighting foams this industry is particularly susceptible or even influential with PFAS related contamination issues

Recreational

Recreational use of potentially contaminated areas (where fire-fighting foam was used – including fire-fighting practice areas) can expose children to contamination

Direct contact

Direct contact with treated products e.g. carpets, mattresses, upholstery, furniture, textiles, automotive applications and building and construction materials

Clothes

Continuous wearing of clothes treated with flame retardants (HBCD)

Direct contact with Electronics

Continuous direct contact (ingest, inhale, touch) with electrical products/material treated with BFRs e.g. computer monitors, televisions, cell phones and remote controls

Agriculture treatment

Farmers, farm workers and housekeepers can be exposed to pesticides in agriculture through the treatment of crops, plants and grain stores

Landfill disposal

Hazardous waste streams/products such as electronic wastes, pesticide containers and old vehicles should not be comingled with general waste for landfill disposal

Open Burning

Open burning of waste such as green waste, copper cables and plastics can lead to the generation of hazardous emissions including Unintentional POPs

Incineration of Medical waste

If medical waste is incinerated in conditions that do not constitute best available techniques or best environmental practices, there is potential for the release of PCDD and PCDF in relatively high concentrations

Burning of certain materials

Burning of certain materials such as cable wires, plastic and electronics can lead to the generation of unintentional POPs

Smoke

Inhaling the smoke caused by burning copper cables can be dangerous

Cookware and food packaging

PFOS exposure can also occur through releases from cookware and food packaging that are treated with these chemicals

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