World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Meeting On Curbing Most Dangerous Pollutants

UN-BACKED MEETING OPENS MONDAY ON CURBING WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS POLLUTANTS

New York, Apr 27 2005 11:00AM

As part of a United Nations-backed effort to rid the planet of some of the worst pollutants tied to cancer, birth defects and immune system damage, 800 government officials and observers from 130 countries will gather next week in Uruguay for the first meeting of a treaty banning the world’s most dangerous pesticides and chemicals.

The UN-backed Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which entered into force on 17 May 2004, targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals, and a key task of the five-day conference, known formally as the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, is to establish a process for evaluating future candidates to add to the initial list.

“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 UN 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 of next week’s gathering in Punta del Este.

Every human in the world carries in his or her body traces of POPs, which circulate globally through a process known as the “grasshopper effect” and include such chemicals as dioxins, furans DDT and PCBs, agents that that can kill people, damage the nervous and immune systems, cause cancer and reproductive disorders and interfere with normal infant and child development.

POPs released in one part of the world can, through a repeated process of evaporation and deposit, be transported through the atmosphere to regions far away from the original source. Though not soluble in water, they are readily absorbed in fatty tissue, where concentrations can become magnified by up to 70,000 times background levels. Fish, predatory birds, mammals in the food chain absorb them. When they travel, POPs go with them.

One of the main challenges to meeting the Convention’s goal involves minimizing and eliminating releases of dioxins and furans, by-products of combustion and industrial processes, which will require expensive new technologies. The meeting aims to advance this with Guidelines on Best Available Techniques and Environmental Practices.

Also high on the agenda is the phasing out of DDT without undermining the fight against malaria, a major killer in many tropical regions. Until safe and affordable alternatives are in place, governments can continue using DDT, and the conference will evaluate the continued need and consider next steps.

Alternatives also need to be developed to combating termites, which cause billions of dollars in economic damage, and the meeting will consider procedures for handling future requests by governments for exemptions enabling them to continue using three POPs termiticides.

Another major challenge involves cleaning up polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), from ageing equipment. PCBs have been used in electrical transformers and other equipment for decades, and must be replaced over the next 20 years. But most developing countries currently lack facilities, funds and expertise to do so.

The 12 POPs 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.

2005-04-27 00:00:00.000

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>

ALSO:

Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>

ALSO:

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC