Climate change and environmental concentrations of POPs: A review

Environ Res. 2015 Nov;143(Pt A):177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.10.012. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


In recent years, the climate change impact on the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has become a topic of notable concern. Changes in environmental conditions such as the increase of the average temperature, or the UV-B radiation, are likely to influence the fate and behavior of POPs, ultimately affecting human exposure. The state of the art of the impact of climate change on environmental concentrations of POPs, as well as on human health risks, is here reviewed. Research gaps are also identified, while future studies are suggested. Climate change and POPs are a hot issue, for which wide attention should be paid not only by scientists, but also and mainly by policy makers. Most studies reported in the scientific literature are focused on legacy POPs, mainly polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides. However, the number of investigations aimed at estimating the impact of climate change on the environmental levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is scarce, despite of the fact that exposure to PAHs and photodegradation byproducts may result in adverse health effects. Furthermore, no data on emerging POPs are currently available in the scientific literature. In consequence, an intensification of studies to identify and mitigate the indirect effects of the climate change on POP fate is needed to minimize the human health impact. Furthermore, being this a global problem, interactions between climate change and POPs must be addressed from an international perspective.

Keywords: Climate change; Environmental fate and transport; Legacy POPs; Persistent organic pollutants (POPs); Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Scientific literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzofurans / analysis
  • Climate Change*
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Environmental Monitoring* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis*
  • Pesticides / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis


  • Benzofurans
  • Dibenzofurans, Polychlorinated
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls