Chemicals and Pollutants

The Arctic is often seen as a remote and pristine area little affected by pollution. On the contrary, the Arctic is a major recipient for industrial chemicals coming from different polluting sources in the mid-latitudes and carried to the Arctic through the process of transboundary pollution.

Biological processes taking place in the Arctic Ocean - a closed basin – favor the accumulation and retention of pollutants that then enter the food chain. As a result, Arctic peoples and ecosystems are exposed to high levels of heavy metals and radiation.

Predicting the impact of contaminants is difficult because of the complex interactions between the physical, chemical, biological and human factors involved. At the same time, climate change is causing changes in the release, distribution and degradation of highly toxic chemicals.

By continuously advocating for binding international instruments to reduce hazardous substances, Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic and the Arctic Council played a significant role in the creation of the 2004 Stockholm Convention, and currently in the on-going work to establish a global mercury treaty. The Arctic Council currently works closely with UNEP’s Chemicals branch on these issues.

 

Access recent publications

May 15, 2013, Kiruna, Sweden - During the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council, the eight Arctic States have signed an agreement on marine oil pollution, preparedness and response.
International Conventions
Chemicals and Pollutants
Climate change and increasing climate variability have the potential to affect POPs contamination via changes in emission sources, transport processes and pathways, and routes of degradation.
Assessment and Reports
Chemicals and Pollutants
This Assessment presents best available data on atmospheric mercury emissions from various sources, atmospheric transport and deposition and current results from modelling on a global scale. It is an overall summary for policy makers.
Assessment and Reports
Chemicals and Pollutants
This assessment report details the results of the 2009 AMAP assessment of Human Health in the Arctic. It builds upon the previous AMAP human health assessments that were presented in 1981 and 2002.
Assessment and Reports
Chemicals and Pollutants
This scientific report includes five review articles covering a number of new or emerging chemicals in the Arctic.
Assessment and Reports
Chemicals and Pollutants
The sixth AMAP State of the Arctic Environment Report, updating the 1997 and 2002 AMAP assessments of Persistent Organic Pollutants, Human Health and Radioactivity.
Assessment and Reports
Chemicals and Pollutants

Maps & Graphics

GRID-Arendal Projects

Relevant news