Sweden's Environmental Protection Agency has published an unprecedented report describing the conclusions of ten years of research into persistent organic pollutants (POPs). It includes new findings such as tests on baby mice with the flame retardant polybrominated diphenylether (PBDE), which found that the mice suffered irreparable brain damage even with exposure to tiny amounts of the chemical. Editor of the report Claes Bernes told ENDS Daily that such results had been found before with DDT and PCBs but this was the first time it had been shown with PBDE. Another finding highlighted is that levels of the pollutants are generally higher in the industrialised south of Sweden contradicting a popular belief that they accumulated in the north. According to Mr Bernes, this could indicate that the point-of-release is the deciding factor in where the chemicals will accumulate. The report recommends that future research into these pollutants should focus on designing cheaper and quicker methods of analysing them to enable levels to be constantly monitored. It should also turn to finding new pollutants instead of concentrating on those that are already known. Publication of the report is intended to coincide with a major international conference on persistent pollutants, Dioxin '98, which starts in Stockholm on Monday.
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