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MEDIA REPORTS

CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2004

 

Chemicals Management Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2004

 

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF BHOPAL DISASTER REKINDLES DEBATE ON CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY, UNDERSCORES HUMAN RIGHTS RESPONSIBILITIES

The 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster that occurred in 2 December 1984 was observed across the globe by numerous events, including the opening of a free medical clinic in Bhopal, the release of a number of documentaries on Bhopal, vigils at over 40 U.S. colleges and a shareholder resolution calling on Dow to resolve its liabilities. A key Amnesty International report exposing the failure of Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals and the Indian government to comply with their respective obligations and responsibilities, and a new Environmental Health Fund book entitled “Trespass Against Us: Dow chemicals and the Toxic Century were also launched. Thousands of people were killed immediately after the disaster, which occurred when 27 tons of lethal gases leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal. Over 100,000 people are suffering from exposure-related illnesses, including cancer and neurological damage.

 

Links to further information

EMS, 29 November 2004

ENS, 30 November 2004

Amnesty International report: Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal Disaster Twenty Years on
 

SEPTEMBER 2004

 

FAO APPEALS TO DONORS TO FUND CONTINUED PESTICIDE CLEANUP EFFORTS

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Programme on the Prevention and Disposal of Obsolete Pesticides will run out of funding by the end of the year, without further assistance from donor countries, according to the programme’s director. Obsolete stocks of pesticides, which are widespread in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America., continue to be a threat to human health and the environment. The FAO has received an increasing number of requests for assistance from affected countries, with the clean-up of one ton of obsolete pesticides costing US$3500. It is estimated that 50,000 tons of obsolete stocks currently exist in Africa alone.

 

Links to further information

Toxic waste from pesticides is ticking time bomb for poor countries, UN warns, UN News Service, 9 September 2004

FAO warns of pesticide waste time bomb in poor countries, FAO News Service, 9 September 2004

 

JULY 2004

 

ORGANIC TECHNIQUES GROW BETTER TOMATOES

Tomatoes grown with organic mulch and less chemical fertilizer do better than conventionally-grown tomatoes, a recent study showed. While conventional tomatoes were grown using black plastic row covers for weed control and a full dose of fertilizer, the other tomatoes were grown with a mulch of hairy vetch, a legume that provides nitrogen and controls weeds, and a half dose of fertilizer. Leaf death and disease onset occurred two weeks later in the organic tomatoes than the conventional ones, and levels of nutrient-linked genes were higher in the organic tomatoes. The authors suggest that alternative techniques could increase yields by up to 20%.

 

Links to further information

Fewer chemicals, better tomatoes?, Science (subscription required), 6 July 2004

http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2004/706/1

An alternative agriculture system is defined by a distinct expression profile of select gene transcripts and proteins. V. Kumar et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (subscription required), 12 July 2004

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0403496101v1?
maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=mattoo&
searchid=1089832070756_6104&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0

 

AIR CLEANERS INEFFECTIVE AGAINST VOCS

Commercially-available air cleaning devices, marketed for home use, are ineffective against common household volatile organic compounds (VOCs), according to a recent study by researchers at Syracuse University in the United States. VOCs are present in many common household products, such as air fresheners, cleansers, building materials, and paints, and many are considered hazardous air pollutants, in outdoor as well as indoor air.  In most cases, the cleaning devices tested did not remove any of the 16 test chemicals, including formaldehyde and toluene.

 

Links to further information

Study finds air cleaners ineffective against hazardous pollutants, Newsday, 7 July 2004

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ny-bc-ny--cleanair0707jul07
,0,2059422.story?coll=ny-ap-regional-wire

 

JUNE 2004

 

US FILES FORMAL COMMENT WITH WTO ON EU REACH PROPOSAL

Citing concerns with the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) proposal, the United States has filed a formal comment with the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade Committee. In its comment, the United States argues that the REACH proposal would “adopt a particularly costly, burdensome, and complex approach, which could prove unworkable in its implementation, disrupt global trade, and adversely impact innovation.” While the US notes improvements in the proposal from earlier versions, it maintains that the programme would disrupt global trade in key sectors such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, and electronics; impose substantial costs and uncertain benefits, and create market uncertainty.

 

Links to further information

Environment News Service, 24 June 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jun2004/2004-06-24-03.asp

US Comments on EC REACH proposal, US Mission to the EU, 21 June 2004

http://www.useu.be/Categories/Evironment/June2204USREACHComments.html

 

HIGH LEVELS OF PBDES FOUND IN BREAST MILK IN CANADA

A study conducted by Health Canada has revealed that the breast milk of Canadian women contains the second highest levels in the world of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), chemicals used as flame retardants in electronic products and furniture. Levels measured were about 5-10 times higher than in women from Japan, Sweden and Germany. Levels in US women, the highest in the world, were twice as high as those measured in Canada. PBDEs are regulated in the European Union. Health Canada and Environment Canada recommended last month that the use of certain PBDEs be discontinued.

 

Links to further information

Globe and Mail, 7 June 2004

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/
20040607/TOXICGTA07/TPNational/TopStories

 

NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS EFFECTS OF CHEMICALS ON CHILDREN’S INTELLIGENCE AND BEHAVIOR

A new report from WWF argues that chemicals in the environment have severe impacts on children’s intelligence and behavior, and could be linked to autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to research presented in the report, children in Europe suffer from poorer memory, reduced visual recognition, less-developed movement skills, and lower IQ scores as a result of chemical contamination. The report calls on the European Union to phase out persistent, bioaccumulative and endocrine disrupting chemicals and substitute them with safer alternatives.

 

Links to further information

WWF-UK Chemicals and Health Campaign Briefing: Compromising Our Children, Chemical Impacts on Children’s Intelligence and Behavior, June 2004

http://www.panda.org/downloads/toxics/children.pdf

 

MAY 2004

 

DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS WARN OF CHEMICAL POLLUTION DANGERS
A group of 80 scientists, experts and medical doctors have called for stronger regulation of untested chemicals. Part of a group called ARTAC (Association pour la Recherche Thérapeutique Anti-Cancéreuse) these experts issued a declaration on 7 May calling for governmental action in light of increasing incidences of cancer and sterility. The declaration, launched during a UNESCO conference, calls chemical pollution ”a serious threat to children and man’s survival” and says that “the human race itself is in serious danger.” It calls on governments to implement the precautionary principle in decision making.

 

Link to further information

The Paris Appeal

http://appel.artac.info/en_anglais.htm

 

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION ON POPS ENTERS INTO FORCE

The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) enters into force on Monday, 17 May. POPs are highly stable compounds that can last for years or decades before breaking down. They circulate globally through a process known as the “grasshopper effect,” where 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. The Stockholm Convention addresses 12 such substances – 10 intentionally-produced POPs, as well as two POPs that are formed as unwanted byproducts such as dioxins and furans. In addition to banning the use of POPs, the treaty focuses on cleaning up the growing accumulation of unwanted and obsolete stockpiles of pesticides and toxic chemicals that contain POPs. The Convention also requires the disposal of PCBs and PCB-containing wastes. The first Conference of Parties (COP-1) to the Stockholm Convention will be held during the first week of May, 2005, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Issues to be resolved at COP-1 include: addressing dioxins and furans; assisting countries in malarial regions with alternatives to DDT; supporting the development of implementation plans for the Convention, and establishing a POPs review committee for evaluating additional chemicals and pesticides to be added to the initial list of 12 POPs.

 

Link to further information

UNEP press release, 14 May 2004

http://www.pops.int/documents/press/EIF/
 

MARCH 2004

 

ASIA-PACIFIC COUNTRIES EXPRESS CONCERN OVER REACH PROPOSAL

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has criticized the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) proposal as “overly expansive, burdensome, and costly” in a recent letter to the European Commission. Countries of APEC include Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico and the United States. In particular, APEC members expressed concern that the REACH programme would harm the region’s manufacturing sector, developing economies, and economies dependent on commodity exports. They also suggested that the REACH proposal would create unfair trade barriers.

 

Links to further information

APEC press release, 12 March 2004 http://www.apec.org/apec/news___media/media_releases/130304_euchemdlgharmful.html

 

EUROPEAN COMMISSION CONSULTS WITH STAKEHOLDERS ON MERCURY STRATEGY

The European Commission is seeking stakeholder input on its mercury strategy. The EC’s environment directorate recently issued a consultation document inviting comments from stakeholders to inform the development of an EU strategy on mercury, which the Commission has been invited to present to the Council in 2004. The document analyzes the situation relating to the use, control, emissions and impact of mercury in the EU. The paper provides an introduction to the mercury problem, describes current EU controls on mercury, and presents an overview of mercury supplies, production, use and emissions, as well as options for recovery, recycling and disposal. The paper also outlines policy options for dealing with mercury. Stakeholder comments on the document will be accepted until 11 May.

 

Links to further information

European Commission Mercury Strategy Consultation Document

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/consultation.pdf

European Commission Mercury Strategy Pages

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/chemicals/mercury/index.htm

 

FEBRUARY 2004

 

ROTTERDAM CONVENTION ENTERS INTO FORCE

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade became legally binding on 24 February 2004. Jointly supported by FAO and UNEP, the Rotterdam Convention enables countries to decide which potentially hazardous chemicals they want to import and to exclude those they cannot manage safely. Where trade is permitted, requirements for labeling and providing information on potential health and environmental effects aim to promote the safer use of chemicals.

 

The Convention has been implemented on a voluntary basis since September 1998 in the form of the interim PIC procedure. The Convention starts with 27 chemicals, but as many as 15 more pesticides and industrial chemicals that have been identified during the interim PIC procedure are flagged for inclusion at the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) to the Convention. Among these are highly toxic pesticides that are traded internationally, such as parathion and monocrotophos, as well as five different forms of asbestos. COP-1 will take place in Geneva from 20-24 September 2004.

 

Links to further information

Rotterdam Convention website

http://www.pic.int
 

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION ON POPs TO ENTER INTO FORCE ON 17 MAY 2004
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will become legally binding on 17 May 2004, 90 days following France’s ratification, which gave the treaty the 50 ratifications required for entry into force.

 

As highly stable compounds, POPs can persist for years or decades before breaking down. POPs released in one part of the world can, through a repeated process of evaporation and deposition, be transported through the atmosphere to regions far away from their original source. POPs then concentrate in living organisms, posing a toxic risk to humans and the environment. Every human in the world carries traces of these chemicals in their bodies, and some of the highest levels can be found in the Arctic.

 

The Stockholm Convention addresses a target list of 12 POPs (these are aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex, toxaphene, polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, hexachlorobenzene, dioxins and furans). Most of the intentionally-produced POPs on this list will be banned immediately. However, the use of DDT for disease vector control under World Health Organization guidelines will be allowed in some countries to control malaria transmission by mosquitoes. For dioxins and furans, which are unintentionally-produced POPs, the treaty will set out guidelines for promoting “best environmental practices” and “best available techniques” that can reduce or eliminate releases. The treaty also addresses the challenge of cleaning up the growing accumulation of unwanted and obsolete stockpiles of pesticides and toxic chemicals.

 

The first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention will be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay in early 2005.

 

Links to further information

Stockholm Convention website
http://www.pops.int

UNEP press release, 18 February 2004

http://www.pops.int/documents/press/pr2-04SC.pdf

 

JANUARY 2004

 

WWF EXPOSES NEW CHEMICAL CONCERNS, CALLS FOR STRONGER LAWS

Many chemicals in everyday consumer goods pose a toxic hazard to humans and animals, suggests a new WWF report entitled “Causes for concern: Chemicals and Wildlife.” The report, which pulls together recent scientific evidence on contamination of humans and wildlife by chemicals in consumer products, was released at the launch of WWF’s DetoX Campaign aimed at lobbying the EU for stronger laws on chemicals.

 

New toxic hazards found in everyday consumer goods are found to have contaminated a wide range of animals, from dolphins and whales to pet birds and alligators. Most prominent on the list of new toxic hazards are: perfluorinated compounds, which are used in textile production, food packaging and non-stick coatings such as Teflon; phthalates found in plastics; phenolic compounds in food cans, plastic bottles and computer shells; and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) found in TVs and fabrics. These chemicals have been found to cause numerous health problems, including cancer, damage to the immune system, behavioral problems, and hormone disruption. Highlighting continuing evidence of widespread and ongoing contamination by chemicals that have already been banned or regulated such as PCBs and DDT, WWF emphasizes the persistence of chemical substances and stresses the importance of preventing a new generation of chemicals from accumulating.

 

“We know that the global production of chemicals is increasing, and at the same time we have warning signals that a variety of troubling threats to wildlife and human health are becoming more prevalent,” says Clifton Curtis, Director of WWF Toxics Programme. “It is reckless to suggest there is no link between the two, and give chemicals the benefit of the doubt.”

 

WWF is calling for the adoption and strengthening of the proposed EU law known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals), which would require manufacturers and importers to provide information on the 30,000 or so industrial chemicals annually marketed in Europe. Saying there’s nothing in the WWF’s claims and that dangerous chemicals were already banned in the EU, the European Chemical Industry Council dismissed the WWF report. The chemical industry claims that legislation would be too costly, inefficient and bureaucratic.

 

Links to further information

Causes for concern: Chemicals and Wildlife

http://panda.org/downloads/toxics/causesforconcern.pdf

WWF’s DetoX Campaign

http://panda.org/detox

 

EU SET TO LAUNCH POLLUTION REGISTER

The European Union will publicly launch the European polluting emission register, or EPER, on 23 February. EPER is run jointly by the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. It will initially include data on 50 pollutants from industrial facilities in the EU countries and Norway and their releases to air, surface water and wastewater treatment plants. This information will be publicly available on the internet, and will be searchable by company, location, country, pollutant, and/or industry sector. Updates are planned in 2006 (based on 2004 data) and in 2008 (based on 2007 data). The pollutants covered include greenhouse gases, air pollutants, metals, chlorinated organic compounds, as well as numerous other substances.

 

Links to further information

EPER website

http://www.eper.cec.eu.int/eper/default.asp

European Commission EPER Information

http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ippc/eper/index.htm

 

UK CHEMICAL INDUSTRY PLANS DATABASE

The UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA) has announced that it plans to develop a database of chemicals marketed in the UK. The database will contain information on all chemicals marketed by CIA member companies. The scope of information included is to be determined. The development of the database is part of the chemical industry’s preparations for the new EU Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) programme.

 

Links to further information

Chemical Industries Association Press Release, 22 January 2004

http://www.cia.org.uk/cgi-bin/dbman/db.cgi?
db=news2&uid=default&view_records=1&ID=375&ww=1

 

CHEMICAL INDUSTRY EXPECTS GROWTH IN 2004
The chemical industry is expecting growth in 2004 throughout most parts of the world. Production, demand and capital spending are predicted to increase, with shut-down plants expected to be brought back on-line. The Outlook predicts growth in the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Europe is seen as lagging behind other regions in industry improvement.

 

Links to further information

Chemical and Engineering News, 12 January 2004

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8202/html/8202world.html

 

FARMED SALMON CONTAIN MORE POPs THAN WILD SALMON

Farmed salmon has been shown to contain more persistent organic pollutants (POPs) than wild salmon, a recent study finds. Published in Science, this study analyzed contaminant levels in over two tons of farmed and wild salmon from around the world, and showed that concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other POPs, such as dioxins, toxaphene, and dieldrin, are significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. The highest levels of contaminants were found in farmed salmon from Europe. The differences in contaminant levels are most likely due to the contaminant content of commercial fish feed. Based on the combined concentrations of PCBs, toxaphene, and dieldrin, the authors applied U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and calculated that consumers should eat no more than one meal a month of farmed salmon to avoid an increased risk of cancer. Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration criticized the findings, arguing that the levels found do not pose a public health concern.

 

Links to further information

Ronald A. Hites et al. Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon. Science 203:9, January 2004, pp. 226-229 (subscription required)

http://www.sciencemag.org

New York Times, 9 January 2004

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/09/science/09SALM.html

 

BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS FOUND IN PEREGRINE FALCONS

Peregrine falcon eggs have been found to contain high levels of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), including deca-BDE, previously thought not to accumulate in wildlife. A study published in Environmental Science and Technology analyzed eggs from peregrine falcons in Sweden for levels of BFRs. Deca-BDE, thought to pose a lower risk than certain other BFRs, is exempted from legislation that will ban penta- and octa-BDE in the European Union later this year. The measurements suggest that deca-BDE is accumulating in the environment along with other BFRs.

 

Links to further information

P. Lindberg et al. Higher Brominated Diphenyl Ethers and Hexabromocyclododecane Found in Eggs of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) Breeding in Sweden. Environmental Science and Technology 38, pp. 93-96, 2004 (subscription required)

http://pubs.acs.org/journals/esthag/

ENS Newswire (subscription required), 7 January 2004

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2004/2004-01-07-03.asp

 

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