The prevalence of pesticides and other chemicals may seem like something of a bygone era, one marked by Silent Spring and the Bhopal Disaster, but the grim reality is that they are unfortunately very much around. Whether it is BPA in your water bottle or neonicotinoids decimating bee populations, action has not been uniform.

To raise attention to this topic and to provide a global overview, Yale’s Environmental Performance Index now includes an indicator on pesticide regulation, backed up by a complete data set which can be downloaded here (should you want more of a granular look), as well as intuitive map, also seen below.

Levels of pesticide regulation by country/toxin. Image courtesy: Yale EPI.

It’s a welcome overview of the state of progress on regulation of the so-called “Dirty Dozen” pesticides under the 2001 Stockholm Convention. These dirty dozen are 12 priority pesticides, chemical and by-products as follow:

  • Pesticides: aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, toxaphene;
  • Industrial chemicals: hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
  • By-products: hexachlorobenzene; polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD/PCDF), and PCBs.

As a non-ecotoxicologist, PCBs are probably the only one I know, though the rest are carcinogenic and toxic in nature, and used primarily in agriculture. So you can bet they might know us.

Since 2001, the Stockholm Convention has added nine new “POPs”, or persistent organic pollutants, to the list, including:

  • Pesticides: chlordecone, alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane, lindane, pentachlorobenzene;
  • Industrial chemicals: hexabromobiphenyl, hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, pentachlorobenzene, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride, tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether; and
  • By-products: alpha hexachlorocyclohexane, beta hexachlorocyclohexane and pentachlorobenzene.

There are of course other pesticides and toxins not covered, but the map is a great introduction to an insidious issue, and how well (or poorly) countries are doing in curbing their use.

[h/t to @ecoangelhsu for the map tip]