Why is High Persistence Alone a Major Cause of Concern?

22 March 2019, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


High persistence (environmental degradation half-lives of several years or more) has important implications for the behavior of chemicals in the environment. Persistent chemicals are distributed widely, often globally, and reach (much) higher concentrations than short-lived chemicals emitted at the same rate. We illustrate these features of highly persistent chemicals using a unit-world environmental fate model. Over the last decades, persistent chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls and poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances have caused serious impacts on the environment and human health. We argue that high persistence should be given particular emphasis in chemicals assessment and management and that highly persistent chemicals should be regulated on the basis of their persistence alone (P-sufficient approach)


polychlorinated biphenyls
poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances
chemical risk assessment


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