Governments meet to launch global campaign to eliminate 12 most hazardous chemicals

Governments meet to launch global campaign to eliminate 12 most hazardous chemicals


Over 800 government officials and observers committed to ridding the world of some of the most dangerous chemicals meet today stage in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Coming together under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the meeting would be the first since coming into force of the Convention, which entered into force on 17 May 2004.

The Convention targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with normal infant and child development.

“The Stockholm Convention will save lives and protect the natural environment – particularly in the poorest communities and countries,” said Executive Director Klaus Toepfer of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), under whose auspices the Convention was adopted in 2001.

“Eliminating POPs, however, will cost billions of dollars and require countries to adopt new methods and technologies to replace these toxic substances. The hard work has only just begun,” he said.

Analysts say that the main challenges to meeting the Convention’s goal include Phasing out DDT without undermining the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, developing alternative for combating termites and minimizing and eliminating releases of dioxins and furans.

Fortunately, says UNEP that these challenges can all be met through win-win solutions that reconcile eventual elimination with immediate human needs.

By signaling to governments and industry that certain chemicals have no future while respecting their legitimate short-term concerns, the Convention aims to stimulate the development of new, affordable and effective alternatives to the world’s most dangerous POPs.

The 12 POPs covered by the Convention include nine pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene); two industrial chemicals (PCBs as well as hexachlorobenzene, also used as a pesticide); and unintentional by-products, most importantly dioxins and furans.

One of the conference’s key tasks is to establish a process for evaluating future candidates for adding to this initial list.

The conference will also consider adopting or endorsing the guidelines on managing POPs wastes that were adopted last year by the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous and Other Wastes.

Some 130 countries are expected to participate in the Punta del Este meeting, which is known formally as the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 1).

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