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


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: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news