U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Characteristics and Behavior of POPs

(Remediation Only)

POPs are synthetic chemicals with the following properties:

  • They are toxic and can have adverse effects on human health and animals.
  • They are chemically stable and do not readily degrade in the environment.
  • They are lipophillic (have an affinity for fats) and easily soluble in fat.
  • They accumulate and biomagnify as they move up through the food chain.
  • They move over long distances in nature and can be found in regions far from their points of origin or use.

Contamination by POPs is widespread because POPs are chemically stable, bioaccumulate, and circulate globally via the atmosphere, oceans, and other pathways. To address the threat posed by this widespread POPs contamination, remediation technologies are being developed to treat these pollutants.