HCH in the EU - the legacy of the Lindane production in Europe

  • 22 april 2021

Gamma HCH: a giant inheritance

Lindane (Gamma HCH) was produced and used as a broad-spectrum insecticide for seed and soil treatment, foliar applications, tree, and wood treatment and against ectoparasites in both veterinary and human applications between 1945 and 2000. Lindane is nearly odourless and does not influence crop quality, as such greatly improving the acceptance of consumers.

Globally 600,000 tons of Lindane were produced. But the production of Lindane was inefficient as for each ton of Lindane 8 to 12 tons of waste isomers were produced. With an estimated produced amount of 600,000 tons of Lindane, around 4.8 million tons of HCH-waste were (and to a great extent still are) present world-wide. These waste isomers were dumped at and around the production facilities in often huge open-air piles or landfills.

We now know that Lindane and the other HCH isomers are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and that they’re persistent in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. For this reason, in 2009, an international ban on the production and use of Lindane was implemented under the Stockholm Convention on POPs.

Pan-European inventory

Under the name 'HCH in the EU', the European Commission has commissioned a consortium consisting of TAUW, CDM Smith Europe from Germany and Sociedad Aragonesa de Gestión Agroambiental (SARGA) from Spain to identify the sites potentially contaminated with HCH in the EU Member States and to provide a full roadmap for sustainable management of six selected HCH contaminated sites. 

Because the project consists of many different (international) parties and locations, good cooperation and sharing of information is essential. To facilitate this, the project uses tailor-made digital environments including a Geographic Information Model (GIM) to collect, organise, store, interpret, assess and report all inventory data from the different locations. The GIM Viewer is available to the project team members, the European Commission and stakeholders and will be public to everyone after the project. 

Twofold objective

First, the project will comprise of a comprehensive inventory of sites in all the EU member states where HCH was produced, stored, landfilled, treated and potentially polluted the soil and groundwater. This will result in country-specific lists of potentially HCH-affected sites in all 27 EU Member States.

The second part of the project will be the consultancy services to map the needs to manage HCH contaminated sites sustainably.

More info

on the “HCH in the EU” project can be found on the project site of TAUW and in the back ground articles 1 and 2.