PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS:
Solution of the POPs-related problems is hindered by physical and
geographical particularities of Tadjikistan and by combination of meteorological
factors, such as low precipitation, weak winds, intensive sun radiation.
Within last three years Tadjikistan has started to develop nation-wide inventory
of key POPs sources.
Tursun-Zade aluminum smoldering plant, the largest plant of its kind in the
former Soviet Union, represents the key source of persistent organic pollutants.
Despite the fact that currently the plant works at 60% of its capacity,
industrial wastes of the enterprise contain 200 tones of poisonous substances
accumulated as a result of thermal processing of carbon electrodes (green anodes)
at 1400-1500 degrees Celsius. Green anodes can be viewed as a potential source
of dioxins because of the presence of solution-resistant aromatic nature organic
Currently with a high degree of probability we can suggest that chemical,
metallurgical, concrete production facilities serve as major sources of dioxins.
Lack of measures aimed at POPs liquidation during collection, processing and
conservation of solid household wastes contributes to deterioration of the
overall situation. Preliminary estimates indicate that solid household wastes
contain up to 10% of polymer materials, while organic products concentration in
solid household wastes reaches 70-80%.
In 2001 development of greenhouse gases emission sources inventory indicated
that in Tadjikistan there are 70 household waste collection facilities and 30
sewage sanitation facilities. Currently only 5 of the 70 household waste
collection facilities meet adopted state standards, while all other facilities
accumulate wastes in bulk without appropriate supervision and often burn
accumulated waste masses. Cumulative methane emission from industrial and
household sewage and solid wastes in carbon dioxin equivalent amounts to 155.61
kilograms per year. However, there is no data on dioxin emission resulting from
burning of accumulated wastes.
Huge masses of solid household wastes are burnt throughout the country, however,
general public does not understand harmful consequences of such practices.
The situation is aggravated by the fact that within extensive period of time
cotton growing in Tadjikistan was associated with groundless and unsupervised
application of various chemical cotton plants protection substances. DDT
distribution analysis in soils of different regions suggests that maximum
acceptable limits of DDT concentration were exceeded in all cotton-growing
regions. Also, there are indications of increased chlorine-based herbicides
concentration in soils and agricultural products. Vegetable samples from
intensive pesticides application regions contained 0.02 – 0.06 milligram/kilogram
of GCCG and 0.01-0.03 milligram/kilogram of DDT.
In Soviet times Tadjikistan served as the USSR’s textile industry raw materials
base. Non-diversified agricultural structure geared towards cotton production
required huge amounts of chemical plants protection means.
In 1960-1980s agricultural aviation delivered pesticides to the fields with
fields coverage ranging from 6 to 12 times.
Large amounts of pesticides, some of which are classified as persistent organic
pollutants, accumulated over time on the limited territory of irrigated
agriculture constituting less than 7% of the overall territory of our
mountainous country. Considering continuous multi-year pesticides application
policies currently our country is probably among the world’s most disadvantaged
states from the standpoint of POPs-related problems. In late 1980s Tadjikistan
was among the world’s leaders in pesticides application per unit of agricultural
Based on available data we can estimate that assortment of pesticides included
more than 50 different types. Of that amount up to 42% were high and medium
toxic pesticides and 17% are persistent in the environment.
Intensity of pesticides application burden fluctuated from 1.29 kilogram/hectare
to 22.2 kilogram/hectare depending on the region. In some instances we
registered pesticides application levels of more than 50 kilogram/hectare. In
Europe average application rates are 1-5 kilogram/hectare.
Preliminary inventory of chlorine-based pesticides indicates that since 1970
until 2002 in Tadjikistan more than 15000 tones of pesticides were applied only
to cotton crops. Currently as a result of the lack of funding farmers do not
have the means to purchase chemical plants protection substances and imports of
such substances have decreased by more than 15 times. Pesticides application
ratio per hectare has declined and reached only 0.03 kilogram/hectare in 2000.
However, recently adopted National long-term economic development program
provides for rapid expansion of cotton production and increase in cotton output
from 450 thousand tones in 2001 to more than 850 thousand tones in 2006, which
can only be possible if pesticides and chemicals are applied.
One of the key issues related to outdated types of pesticides is represented by
the lack of adequate import controls. Instances of illegal toxic substances
shipments indicate that if Tadjikistan does not adopt adequate counter measures,
the country will turn into a dumpster for outdated chemical substances.
Tadjikistan’s Environmental Protection Ministry has approached appropriate
government agencies with the proposal to introduce stricter controls over toxic
substances shipments to Tadjikistan.
Another major issue influencing ecological situation in the country is
represented by the need to sanitize and store unusable and prohibited poisonous
Data provided by the national sanitary and epidemiological station indicates
that within last several decades outdated technologies and lack of water
sanitation capacity had led to constant chlorine overdose in drinking water,
which, in its turn, could lead to development of chlorine-based organic
Automobile exhaust gases also serve as sources of dioxins accumulation.
Tadjikistan imports low quality petroleum products while outdated vehicles can
not fully burn the fuels leading to development of aromatic hydrocarbons.
Currently all over the country harmful automobile exhaust gases constitute up to
73% (81 thousand tones) of all pollutants. Of this amount hydrocarbons
constitute more than 13.4 thousand tones.
As a conclusion of the brief POPs-related issues overview we have to stress that
extensive further research will be needed to assess dioxins exhaust levels and
identify their chemical nature. At the current preliminary stage we feel that
our country faces the same levels of dioxins exhausts as developed European
Sharing concerns of the international community related to environmental
pollution caused by persistent organic pollutants, on May 20, 2002 Tadjikistan
joined the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. Currently
preliminary POPs-related data collection and analysis program is 20-25% complete.
Preliminary inventory development included data provided by Specialized
analytical control inspection of Tadjikistan’s Environmental Protection Ministry,
Ministry of agriculture, Tadjikselkhozchemicals agency (Tadjikistan’s
agricultural chemicals agency). Tadjikistan’s Academy of Sciences.
Detailed pesticides application research projects will be implemented in the
regions of the Republic after appropriate financial support is provided by the
international organizations. It is, also, important to identify POPs
accumulation areas and concentration of persistent organic pollutants in the
environment. Tadjikistan is determined to fulfill its obligations related to
persistent organic pollutants. However, a single nation can not address POPs
pollution prevention issues and problems related to cross border movements of
persistent organic pollutants. Such an undertaking requires application of joint
efforts by all members of the international community.
By A Djuraev
National Coordinator of POPs plan development
Chief, Atmospheric pollution norms setting section,
Environmental Protection Ministry of the Republic of Uzbekistan