Today, humans have nearly 300 man-made substances in their bodies that were not present in previous generations. The long-term toxicity of low doses of most of these chemicals is unknown.

The Stockholm Convention recognizes that persistent organic pollutants possess toxic properties, resist degradation, bioaccumulate and are transported, through air, water and migratory species, across international boundaries and deposited far from their place of release, where they accumulate in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The agreement aims to protect human health and the environment. It establishes various measures to reduce the presence of these compounds through restrictions and by prohibiting their production and use.

At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the participating governments, including Mexico, agreed to "use and produce chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment” and agreed to achieve that goal by 2020.

Mexico signed the convention on May 23, 2001 in Sweden, and ratified it on February 10, 2003. It was the first Latin American country to ratify the convention, which entered into force on May 17, 2004.

The 2013 United Nations Environment Programme report "Costs of Inaction on the Sound Management of Chemicals" shows that the cost—borne by all segments of society, including business, from the production, use and disposal of harmful chemicals—is too high.

If carcinogenic air toxics in Mexico City were reduced by 10%, it is estimated that there would be up to 100 fewer cases of cancer among the population per year.