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MEDIA REPORTS

CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

2006

 

Chemicals Management Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002
 

DECEMBER 2006

EUROPEAN COUNCIL ADOPTS WORLD’S STRICTEST CHEMICALS LAW
The European Environment Council adopted the new Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorization and restrictions of chemicals (REACH) on 18 December 2006. REACH, a single regulatory system for chemicals, aims to improve human health and the environment. Welcoming the adoption of REACH, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas stated “REACH is currently the most ambitious chemicals legislation in the world and will encourage innovation in the chemicals industry.” REACH will enter into force on 1 June 2007 and will require the registration of approximately 30,000 chemical substances in use over the next 11 years.

Link to further information
EUROPA Press Release, 18 December 2006

UNEP LEADS COTE D’IVOIRE CLEAN UP
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched an international mission to support the Cote D’Ivoire in finalizing its strategic plan for dealing with the toxic waste dumped in that country in August 2006.  UNEP’s 14 December 2006 announcement indicated that the finalized waste plan will address current concerns and, in cooperation with other UN entities and the international community, provide a basis for long-term remediation. A Trust Fund will also be established to provide a mechanism for governments to immediately assist the Cote D’Ivoire financially. UNEP’s Green Customs initiative is also organizing a workshop in West Africa in early 2007 to provide training on environmental issues for customs officials.

Link to further information
UNEP News Release, 14 December 2006

EU LEGAL BODIES COMPROMISE ON REACH
The EU Parliament, Council and Commission came to a compromise on the REACH draft regulation on 30 November 2006. Producers and importers of chemicals will have to provide information on their substances to promote their safe management, and they will have to progressively substitute the most dangerous substances with safer alternatives. Businesses fear that replacing toxic substances with safer alternatives will mean additional costs for industry leaders. The Parliament is expected to vote on the draft regulation on 13 December 2006. The Council is expected to vote on 18 December 2006. Pending the outcome of these votes, the REACH regulation is expected to come into force in April 2007.

Links to further information
RTE News
INS Net News
WBCSD News

Euractiv News

 

NOVEMBER 2006

CONCERNS RAISED OVER IMPLICATIONS FOR WASTE TRADE FROM PHILLIPPINES-JAPANESE ECONOMIC AGREEMENT

The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which was signed in September 2006, has been criticized for its implications for international trade in wastes. Japan considers the deal to be important, because it removes tariff duties on more than 90 percent of trade in goods between the two countries, and has expressed hope that the treaty will be ratified soon. The pact has been questioned by environmentalist groups including Greenpeace, who stress that the agreement will encourage such trade because it will allow Japan to dump waste in the Philippines at zero tariffs. The Philippines has not yet ratified the treaty. Both countries are signatories to the Basel Convention, and the environmental groups have said the treaty is contradictory to the mandate of the Basel Convention.


Links to further information

Yahoo UK News Release

Basel Action Network (BAN) report on JPEPA

EUROPEAN STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION LAUNCHED ON SUBSTANCES IN ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT
A Stakeholder Consultation on Adaptation to scientific and technical progress has been launched. Under directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, the consultation’s purpose is to have a possible amendment of the annex to include other substances. The directive states that from 1 July 2006
, new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market should not contain lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, PBB or PBDE. The annex to the Directive lists a number of applications of lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium that are exempted from the requirements of Article 4(1).

Link to further information
Full instructions to submit responses on the consultation

EU DISCUSSES REACH OPTIONS

With only weeks remaining before the Parliament votes on the EU’s chemicals reform, discussions have taken place and opinions expressed by stakeholders on expectations from REACH. One of the topics of discussion revolves around the differences between the Council’s text and the Parliament’s proposal. Whereas the former states that, if chemicals have a safe limit value and if they’re adequately controlled, there is no need to seek a safer alternative to that chemical, the Parliament is considering how to minimize exposure and to look for safer alternatives instead. The medical journal The Lancet called for REACH regulation to protect unborn children against possible brain-development disorders caused by industrial chemicals. Parliament has voted recently to delay restrictions on measuring devices containing mercury, such as barometers and thermometers, a decision that was not welcomed by NGOs.

Links to further information

Euractiv interview to Industry & NGO

European Environmental Bureau (EBB) news release

WWF news release

The Lancet paper

WWF News release

EBB News release on Parliament’s Mercury vote
 

STUDY FINDS THAT AGENT ORANGE AFFECTED THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH OF VIETNAM VETERANS

A study in Environmental Health Perspectives indicates that exposure to TCDD, the most toxic of the dioxin family of chemicals contained in Agent Orange, may disturb the male endocrine and reproductive system. The US used Agent Orange, an herbicide, during the Vietnam War to defoliate trees and remove cover for the enemy. The study of Vietnam War Air Force veterans found evidence that a toxic chemical in the herbicide affected the veterans’ reproductive health.

Link to further information

ENS News Release, 15 November 2006

GREEN COMPUTERS AND E-WASTE ISSUES GARNERING ATTENTION
E-waste and green computers are receiving attention from a variety of perspectives from organizations and publications. “Creating innovative solutions through the Basel Convention for the environmentally sound management of electronic wastes” has been selected as the theme of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP-8), which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 27 November to 1 December 2006. The Environmental, Science and Technology website has posted a paper by Stuart Harrad, an environmental chemist at the University of Birmingham (UK), who discovered that older computers can be a significant source of toxic polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. The study also finds that air inside older automobiles is an important source of PBDE’s and that newer homes can harbor unidentified sources of PCB’s. Meanwhile, Greenpeace recently released its Guide to Greener Electronics and challenged Apple to go green through its “Green my Apple” campaign at the Mac Expo in London from 26-28 October 2006. Greenpeace volunteers at the expo passed out flyers explaining the campaign along with organic green apples and tried to persuade Mac consumers to challenge Apple to go green.

Links for further information
Basel Convention website
ES&T news release, 1 November 2006

Greenpeace press release, 26 October 2006

OCTOBER 2006
 

EUROPEAN COMMISSION PROPOSES BAN ON EU MERCURY EXPORTS

The European Commission has proposed legislation to ban all European Union exports of mercury beginning in 2011. The ban forms part of the EU’s strategy for reducing global exposure to mercury, which is toxic to humans, animals and ecosystems. Environmental NGOs welcomed the Commission’s move as a first step toward a global ban, but were disappointed that the ban would not include mercury compounds and mercury-containing products. The mercury ban issue was also part of the discussions at the recently held International Mercury Conference, which took place in Brussels on 26-27 October 2006. The conference promoted global action through presentations and discussions, including the possibility of developing a legally binding international agreement.

 

Links to further information
Europa Press Release, 26 October 2006
Euractiv Press Release, 26 October 2006
EBB Press Release, 26 October 2006
Environment News Service, 30 October 2006

PROBO KOALA SHIP LEAVES ESTONIAN PORT

The Probo Koala, a Panamanian-registered ship charged with dumping toxic waste in the Côte d’Ivoire, was allowed to leave an Estonian port to sail to a treatment plant in Northern Estonia. Estonian authorities had impounded the ship after the ship’s crew asked to offload waste similar to that dumped in the Côte d’Ivoire. The Estonian investigation is still ongoing, but the state prosecutor’s office said it was no longer necessary to hold the vessel. Meanwhile, clean-up operations in the Côte d’Ivoire by a French decontamination company are expected to take two months, with the sludge scheduled to be transported to a European country for proper disposal. The Côte d’Ivoire has announced that the number of casualties from this incident has risen to 10.

 

Links to further information
Planet Ark news story, 13 October 2006
Relief Web news story, 13 October 2006
 

SEPTEMBER 2006

 

EU EXPORTS OF HAZARDOUS WASTES CONTINUES

Following the disaster in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the Panamanian cargo vessel Probo Koala, has been detained on 25 September in the harbor of Paldiski, Estonia. On 19 August, the ship reportedly unloaded toxic waste in the town of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The shipment had killed 8 people and apparently harmed another 80,000. Greenpeace had been blocking the ship at the Paldiski port and only ended its activities after three days, when the Estonian Attorney General decided to launch an investigation on the vessel, based on suspicions that it was trying to dump waste into the Paldiski port without permission. EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas condemned these actions and urged EU members to enforce laws in banning the export of hazardous waste.

 

Links to further information
ENS report, 28 September 2006

Greenpeace press releases:
25 September 2006

27 September 2006

Sunday Herald, September 2006

 

DIABETES LINKED TO PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS—REPORT

A team from the State University of New York gathered data from 1993 to 2000 for adults living in New York. The study showed that residents living near hazardous waste sites were 10% more likely to be hospitalized from diabetes than people living in non-pollutants affected neighborhoods.

 

Links to further information
SUNY study, September 2006

Science News story, 27 September 2006

 

GREEN “PIONEER” PAUL ANASTAS RECEIVES HEINZ AWARD

Dr. Anastas, “the father of green chemistry”, was awarded with the 12th annual Heinz Award for the Environment. An environmental pioneer, Dr. Anastas, who currently serves as Director of the Green Chemistry Institute, has encouraged companies worldwide to develop and adopt greener technologies. Green chemistry involves a voluntary, non-regulatory approach that makes environmental improvements attractive to the industry. These improvements include the use of less toxic chemicals and more sustainable industrial processes.

 

Links to further information
ENS report (25 September 2006)

 

POLLUTION HITS LAKE, FLAMINGOES

Heavy metals have been found in Kenya’s Lake Nakuru after feeding into it from rivers that pass through farmland where fertilizers, herbicides and acaricides are used. A recent reports suggests that, together with the destruction of the Mau Forest, this pollution could have been responsible for the deaths of over 20,000 flamingoes at Lake Nakuru National Park in the last three months. The Kenyan government has set up a task force.

 

Link to further information
East African Standard report, 9 September 2006

 

BASEL SECRETARIAT INVESTIGATES ILLEGAL WASTE IMPORTS

Toxic material was dumped last month by a Panamanian-registered ship on about 10 open-air sites in the city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, according to recent reports. Greenpeace said the dumping in this city of four million people was comprised of 400 tonnes of oil refining waste, which is rich in organic matter and poisonous elements. The Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is investigating whether the wastes are linked to illegal exports from Europe, since European Union law implementing the Basel Convention prohibits all exports of hazardous wastes from EU members to developing countries. The Secretariat is also trying to assess where the legal responsibility for this disaster lies and if eventually the Convention’s trust fund can be tapped to support clean-up operations. With this purpose, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has confirmed that a request for international assistance was made on 4 September 2006 for US$13.5 million based on a short-term response plan. An inter-agency task force has been established in Côte d’Ivoire to coordinate UN agencies’ response to the situation.

 

Links to further information

Basel Convention press release, 12 September 2006

ENS News service, 11 September 2006

UNEP press release, 8 September 2006

 

WHO SUPPORTS DDT IN MALARIA FIGHT

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a plan to strengthen anti-malaria efforts that includes DDT use. The new plan supports wider use of the controversial DDT pesticide, calling for more indoor residual spraying of DDT in areas where malaria remains an epidemic. WHO’s studies apparently show that DDT is safe when used properly and constitutes an effective and cheap option for countries that need to control malaria. Malaria is responsible for over one million deaths each year.

 

Links to further information

WHO Press release, 15 September 2006

ENS report, 15 September 2006

 

WWF VIDEO EXAMINES EU CHEMICALS LAW

WWF has released a video that shows four members of the European Parliament discussing the new proposed EU chemicals law (REACH). WWF has been lobbying for strong legislation.

 

Links to further information

WWF Press release (5 September 2006)

The video

 

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BANS MERCURY IN HOME THERMOMETERS

The European Parliament’s Environment committee has voted to ban mercury in home thermometers. The vote, on 13 September 2006, also contained an amendment to the Commission’s proposal to extend the ban on mercury to other devices that cover professional healthcare. However, the proposal does not include barometers that are sold to the public. Health and environment organizations urged the Council to follow the Commission’s proposal on barometers. Europe’s Parliament is set to vote on the issue on 25 October and the Council is expected to reach an agreement on a common position on 4 December 2006.

 

Links to further information

EurActiv report (15 September 2006)

NGO press release (14 September 2006)

 

AUGUST 2006

 

EU DRAFTS PROPOSAL FOR GHS REGULATION; OPENS PUBLIC CONSULTATION

The European Commission has drafted a proposal for a regulation that would introduce the Global Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) into community law. GHS has been endorsed by parties at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and it is meant to be implemented in domestic law by 2008. The EU is undertaking a public consultation on this draft proposal that will be open from 21 August to 21 October, 2006.

 

Link to further information

EC announcement (August 2006)

 

GREENPEACE RANKS ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY

Greenpeace has released a report in which it ranks top mobile and PC producer companies according to their environmental performance in terms of E-waste recycling and the use of chemicals. According to Greenpeace, no company achieve a fully “green” ranking, although some performed better than others. Nokia and Dell led the rankings, followed by Sony Ericsson and Samsung.

 

Links to further information

Greenpeace “Guide to Greener Electronics”, August 2006

Greenpeace news release, 25 August 2006

Yahoo UK News, 30 August 2006

 

SWITZERLAND TO HOST HEAVY METALS EVENT

The Swiss Government is set to host full-day side event on heavy metals in Budapest on 23 September, just before the IFCS Forum V. The heavy metals event’s outcomes are expected to be conveyed to the Forum V plenary. It is hoped that further discussion will provide an additional opportunity to further examine the issues and problems and may assist countries to start implementing SAICM and follow-up on heavy metal priorities.

 

Links to further information

The agenda

Forum V - Side Events

 

IFCS ANNOUNCES AWARDS

The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) has announced the winners of its Award of Merit, a prize recognizing a person or an organization for their contributions to international activities on chemical safety. This year the prizes have been awarded to Mr. J. Roy Hickman and to Dr. Ulrich Schlottmann. A special Recognition Award has been granted to Princess Chulaborn Mahidol of Thailand and Chulaborn Research Institute.

 

Link to further information

Award of Merit, (August 2006)

 

EU PUBLISHES COSMETIC PRODUCTS GUIDELINES

The European Commission has released a set of guidelines for consumers to have easier access to information regarding cosmetics that they purchase. Industry has created a database with information on companies that produce cosmetics in the EU and with this information consumers have the option to contact these companies through a website, by phone or by mail, to inquire about the products. Consumers can ask to receive information about the components or the reactions that may have been reported as a result for using the product.

 

Links to further information

EU press release, 28 August 2006

EU Guidelines (August 2006)

Industry database

 

CALIFORNIA CONDORS THREATENED BY LEAD AMMUNITION

Recently published research suggests that hunting ammunition is the cause of lead poisoning of the California condors. Fragments of ammunition that contain lead are found in the remains of animals such as deer, elk, and feral pigs. These fragments that are not retrieved by hunters are the source of lead that the condors feed in. The results of the study may encourage regulations that force hunters to change the ammunition they use.

 

Links to further information

Science News Press Release

The Research

 

ALARM RAISED OVER LEAD-BASED PAINTS

A new study has apparently found that unregulated production of consumer paint in Asian countries contains large amounts of lead and greatly exceeds the U.S. safety levels. A scientific team at the University of Cincinnati analyzed 80 consumer paint samples from India, China and Malaysia and Singapore and found that the first three countries still produce paint with high levels of lead, whereas Singapore, which follows the same lead restriction as the US, produces new paint with significantly lower levels of lead. The study is found in the journal, Environmental Research.

 

Links to further information

Environmental Research information

ENS news story, 24 August 2006

 

TWO CHEMICALS CONSULTATIONS ANNOUNCED

Two sets of consultations are expected on chemicals management, in the US and Europe. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been required to consult with wildlife specialists to ensure that the use of pesticides will not harm endangered species. On 29 August, a federal judge overturned a new rule that would have allowed the use of pesticides, without consultation, in areas where endangered species have their habitats. For the second time in five years, the judge has ruled against federal agencies for failing to follow the Endangered Species Act in licensing pesticides for sale. ENS news story, 29 August 2006.

 

Meanwhile, the European Union has launched an external consultation on the community implementation plan for the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The closing date for the consultation is 10 October 2006. More information.

 

COCA-COLA RELEASES FIRST CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AND SUSTAINABLITY REVIEW

Coca-Cola Enterprises has released its first company-wide Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Review. The report is based on the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for the Global Reporting Initiative and highlights: the establishment in 2005 of a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Advisory Council; voluntary changes to nutritional labeling as a result of consumer research and stakeholder engagement; a 20% reduction in packaging use since 2001; an estimated 1.53 billion liters of water savings since 2004 through conservation measures; and adoption of ISO 14001 environmental management standards in many facilities. The report comes at a time when the company is facing protests in India, where activists say its products contain high levels of pesticides and its operations are depleting water supplies.

 

Links to further information

GLOBE-Net news release (via WBCSD) (24 August 2006)

Coca-Cola Enterprises Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Review 2005

Global Reporting Initiative

 

INDIA HIT BY COLA PESTICIDE CLAIMS, OTHER CHEMICALS STORIES
India
has been the focus of several claims over chemicals management problems, with “cola” soft drinks, e-waste and high mercury levels all making news.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a research and advocacy group in India, has released a study asserting that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo soft drinks contain high levels of pesticides. The tests, 57 samples from 25 different bottling plants in 12 states, apparently found pesticides in all samples. The residues of lindane, chlorpyrifos, heptachlor and malathion found, were 24 times higher than those in the European Union standards. As a result, the Kerala state in South India banned the production of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in their state, and several other regions issued partial bans. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have taken various actions to demonstrate that their products are safe for consumption, and Coca-Cola India has cited other research appearing to contradict CSE’s claims.

Meanwhile, another recent news report has focused on illegal exports of equipment into India from the US and other developed countries, generating a growth in the “e-waste” problem. One estimate suggests that near 40,000 tons of used electronic equipment is imported into India each month. The e-waste issue will be the theme of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention in late 2006.

In other news, high levels of mercury are reported to have been found in Parad Shivlings (a metal instrument used for religious purposes) that are being sold for use in people’s home, according to an Indian non-governmental organization.

Links to further information
CSE website

CSE’s report, August 2006

India Resource Center website

Business Week report, 10 August 2006

Coca-Cola India press release, 14 August 2006

Asia Times online e-waste report, 3 August 2006

Toxics Link press release on mercury levels, 2 August 2006

 

EU INITIATIVES AIM TO CUT UNINTENTIONAL POPS
A recent study prepared for the European Commission has identified domestic combustion and marine and road transport as the top generators of unintentional releases of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In response to this study, the EU has launched a public consultation on potential EU initiatives to reduce these releases.
Four main POPs are being addressed in this consultation: dioxins and furans, hexachlorobenzene, polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
 

Link to further information
WBCSD/ENDS Europe new story (2 August 2006)

 

JULY 2006

 

EU ADOPTS NEW PESTICIDE STRATEGY

The European Commission has adopted a new strategy aimed at improving the way pesticides are used across the EU. The strategy is intended to complement the existing EU legislation that controls pesticides that can be used on the market and takes into account national action plans, training for professional users, certification and control of application equipment, protection of aquatic environment and restricting or banning the use of pesticides in specific areas. Aerial spraying is banned except in certain specific cases.

 

Links to further information
EU press release, 12 July 2006

EU background information, 2006

TV LINK article, video, 12 July 2006

EBB press release, 12 July 2006

 

NEW PROCESS TO MAKE INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS FROM SUGAR

New research has been carried to find environmentally-friendly sources of common chemicals. According to engineering professor James Dumesic from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there is a better way to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroximethylfurfural) from fructose. The new process is used to make industrial chemicals from plants and after a catalyst converts fructose into HMF, it is reportedly fairly easy to convert into plastics or even diesel fuel. HMF can potentially replace products like PET, the plastic used for bottles. According to Dumesic, HMF is the first step for a range of chemical products that can be obtained from biomass resources, replacing those that come from petroleum sources. The research was supported by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.

 

Link to further information
GreenBiz.com press release (7 July 2006)

 

JUNE 2006

 

SAFER CHEMICALS USED BY SIX MAJOR COMPANIES

A report on “Healthy Business Strategies for Transforming the Toxic Chemical Economy” has been launched by the nonprofit organization Clean Production Action (CPA). The report shows the toxics-reduction efforts by six companies: Avalon Natural Products, Dell Inc., H&M, Herman Miller, Interface and Kaiser Permanente. The report outlines how these companies are committed to apply green chemistry and healthy materials in their production and activities. CPA expects that the report will be an incentive for other companies to use safe chemicals and adopt similar practices such as conducting internal hazard assessments, investing in plant-based materials, applying green chemistry and green engineering principles and making safe chemicals research and production a priority.

 

Links to further information
The report

GreenBiz.com press release (29 June 2006)

 

RESEARCHERS TRACK POLLUTANTS WORLDWIDE

A team of scientists from North America and Europe is publishing a comprehensive analysis of global concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the air. The researchers present information about levels of POPs in the air at 42 sites across seven continents. In addition to the twelve POPs targeted by the Stockholm Convention, the researchers also provide data about some emerging contaminants under consideration for inclusion in the treaty, including the polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), flame retardants, and the pesticide endosulfan. Most of the unexpectedly high concentrations reported in the study are for pesticides banned by the Stockholm Convention.

 

Links to further information
Abstract of the report

Science News Press Release (28 June 2006)

 

MARITIME CHEMICAL SPILLS TREATY TO ENTER INTO FORCE IN 2007

The Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (OPRC-HNS Protocol) will enter into force on 14 June 2007, exactly twelve months after its accession by Portugal, the 15th State to ratify the treaty. The OPRC-HNS Protocol is aimed at providing a global framework for international cooperation in combating major incidents or threats of marine pollution from ships carrying HNS. In accordance with the protocol, ships will be required to carry a shipboard pollution emergency plan to deal with incidents involving HNS. These substances are defined as any substance other than oil, which, if introduced into the marine environment, is likely to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life, to damage amenities or to interfere with other legitimate uses of the sea.

 

Link to further information
IMO press release

 

ORGANIZATIONS CONSIDER STRATEGIC APPROACH TO CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT
Since the adoption of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was adopted in Dubai in February 2006, the governing bodies of several intergovernmental organizations have given consideration to the issue. These include:

•  Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Decision SS.IX/1, (English, French, Spanish), 9 February 2006;
•  Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), Decision on SAICM, 27 April 2006
•  World Health Assembly (for the World Health Organisation -WH0), Decision WHA59.15 (English, French, Spanish), 27 May 2006
 

Link to further information

UNEP Chemicals website

 

WWF TARGETS TOXICS IN THE ARCTIC
Conservation organization WWF has recently released a number of news releases on several issues associated with the finding of toxics in the Arctic. These include a study of Arctic populations in which several toxics where found, all related to the use of household items like televisions, computers and cooking pans. WWF has also published a report suggesting that the health of many Arctic animals such as polar bears, beluga whales, seals and seabirds are being impacted by harmful chemicals. Finally, WWF has released an interactive explanation of how toxic chemicals reach the arctic.
 

Link to further information

WWF information: 20 June 2006 - 15 June 2006
WWF - How chemicals reach the arctic

 

SUPPORT GROWS FOR “GREENER” PCs
A major computer maker has announced that it would phase out the use of two key groups of chemicals known to be hazardous to the environment. By 2009, Dell claims that its computers will not include any brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and the plastic polyvinyl chlorine (PVC). The announcement coincides with a recent study by Greenpeace showing that consumers would be willing to pay more for more environmentally friendly PCs, and that companies should be held responsible for dealing with hazardous waste from PCs rather than expecting users, retail shops or the governments to do it. Greenpeace’s campaign to pressure electronic manufacturers into making their products more environmentally friendly also focuses on the mounting problem of toxic e-waste.

 

In July 2006, a European Directive (RoHS - Restriction of Hazardous Substances) will come into force requiring the electronics industry to eliminate four types of heavy metals (Lead, Cadmium, Chromium and Mercury) as well as two types of Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs).
 

Links to further information

Greenpeace news release, 26 June 2006
Dell announcement, June 2006

 

COALITION LOBBIES EU MINISTERS OVER PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS
The POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) and European Environmental Bureau (a coalition of citizens’ organizations) have called on EU environment ministers to reject proposals from the European Commission and establish a protective standard for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in waste. The Commission is apparently in the process of asking Member States to approve a policy that IPEN and EEB argue would permit levels of POPs in waste that are too high. The POPs Convention recommends that POPs should be destroyed or irreversibly transformed to prevent the continued build-up of toxins in people, plants and animals (bioaccumulation), and other threats to human health and the environment.
 

Link to further information

IPEN’s press release, 15 June 2006

 

U.S. QUESTIONS DRAFT EU CHEMICALS LAW
The United States and a coalition of other nations have expressed concerns at the likely trade impacts of the EU’s chemical safety reform, “REACH,” according to reports. The Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals – or REACH – initiative is now before the EU parliament. The coalition of concerned countries, which includes Japan, India, Australia, has apparently argued that the EU law would pose a risk to developing countries and small businesses. The group reportedly issued a joint statement on 8 June 2006 asking the EU to revisit its draft law.
 

Link to further information

Euractiv news article (9 June 2006)

 

EU LAW LIMITS THE USE OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS ON ELECTRONICS PRODUCTION
A European law that limits toxic substances in electronic devices takes effect on 1 July, 2006. Many electronic devices, such as computer circuit boards and cathode ray tubes, contain substances such as lead and cadmium that can cause serious health problems if ingested. The EU has taken a two-tier approach: a law took effect last year requiring electronic firms to recycle their products and also enacted the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, to eliminate lead, cadmium, mercury and three other toxic chemicals from electronic devices.
 

Link to further information

The Boston Globe (1 June, 2006)

 

LABORATORY STUDY LINKS PROSTATE CANCER TO CHEMICALS IN PLASTICS
Scientists have found that exposure to a chemical that leaks from plastic causes genetic changes in animals developing prostate glands that are precursors of the most common form of cancer in males. The chemical, bisphenol A, or BPA, is used in the manufacture of hard, polycarbonate plastic for baby bottles, microwave cookware and other consumer goods, and it has been detected in nearly every human body tested.
 

Link to further information

LA Times (1 June 2006)

ENS article (2 June 2006)

 

CZECH FACILITY WINS PRIZE FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCE AVOIDANCE
The Award for Avoidance of Toxic Substances was presented to Olomouc Hospital from the Czech Republic, for work to phase out medical devices containing DEHP from its Department of Neonatology. The CleanMed Best Practice Awards form part of an international biannual conference dedicated to spreading good environmental practice in health care through showcasing case studies of progressive practices from health care facilities around the globe. Criteria for selection include pollution prevention, waste minimization, and reduction of people’s exposure to toxic substances commonly used in hospitals.
 

Link to further information

Arnika press release (7 June 2006)


MAY 2006

 

GREEK SHIP SENT FOR DISMANTLING BANNED FROM BANGLADESH WATERS
Alfaship, a Greek vessel that was due to be dismantled in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards, has been banned by the Dhaka High Court from entering Bangladeshi territorial waters after being identified as a toxic oil tanker. While the owner of the ship, LSP Tanker Corporation, had reassured the court that the vessel had gone through the necessary decontamination before departing, environment and human right groups requested that the ship is sent back to Europe for pre-decontamination. The vessel is one of about 50 being monitored by Greenpeace.
 

Links to further information

Yahoo UK News (3 May, 2006)

Basel Action Network (BAN) (2 May, 2006)

 

EU TO MAKE BATTERY RECYCLING MANDATORY BY 2008
The European Union has agreed to a law that will make recycling of batteries obligatory starting in 2008. The law will ban most batteries with toxic chemicals such as cadmium and mercury. A quarter of all used batteries must be collected by 2012 and almost half by 2016. Collection points where consumers can deposit the used batteries will be established and all related costs for implementing the new law will be borne by the industries.
 

Link to further information

BBC News (3 May 2006)

 

“REACH” SCHEME DISPUTES EMERGE
A dispute between environmental group Greenpeace and the private sector has emerged over the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) scheme. Greenpeace has recently released a report called “Toxic Lobby: How the chemicals industry is trying to kill REACH.” The report describes the action that different EU-based companies have taken to oppose to the proposed reform of the EU chemicals law. It also compares the projected costs that the reform would cost with chemicals industries annual sales.

 

In related news, the American Chamber of Commerce has argued that the proposal to establish a list of selected chemicals for safety checks under REACH is likely to cause massive business disruptions even before it can be assessed whether they can be authorized or not regardless of their high toxicity. The group states that the publication of such list may make it very difficult for companies making consumer products to justify the presence of “substances of very high concern” in their products. It also states that manufacturers will require suppliers to provide them only with raw materials that do not appear on the supposed published list, forcing them to transform complex supply chain and causing business disruptions and barriers to trade.
 

Links to further information

Greenpeace news release, 4 May 2006

Euractiv News release, 5 May 2006

 

GREENPEACE REPORTS ON IMPACT OF TOXIC CHEMICALS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
Greenpeace has released a warning over the possible health problems that can result from exposure to chemicals in perfumes, carpets, electronics, clothing and other daily contact that humans have with the different hazardous substances. In a new report entitled, “Fragile: our reproductive health and chemical exposures,” the environmental group collects the findings of different studies conducted in recent years related to the increase of infertility, genital abnormalities and testicular cancer.
 

Link to further information

Greenpeace news release (2 May 2006)

 

APRIL 2006

 

EU CONCLUDES CHILD CANCER STUDY ON PHTHALATES
The European Union has concluded a study on Phthalates, a substance used to soften PVC plastics in a wide range of applications such as clothing, medical products, cosmetics, toys, child care articles and food packaging. The substance, which was banned in 2005 from being used in toys amid fears that it could increase rates of child cancer and asthma if ingested, has been the subject of a long risk assessment process first launched in 1994. A study released of three Phthalates (DINP, DIDP and DBP) released on 11 April found that that DINP and DIDP are safe for all uses outside childrens toys and childcare articles’. For DBP, it recommended placing limits on workers exposure in processing plants and using best available techniques for DBP’s safe handling. Risk assessments for remaining Phthalates are still pending.
 

Link to further information

EurActiv news report, 21 April 2006

 

FOX RIVER: PCB CLEANUP FUNDED
Two corporations, NCR and Sonoco-U.S. Mills Inc., have agreed to fund a US$30 million project on the dredging and disposal of the most toxic sediments in Wisconsin’s Fox River. The companies will design and implement the cleanup project in order to dredge, dewater and dispose of about 100,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) downstream and west of the De Pere Dam. This project is part of a legal settlement announced by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 

Link to further information

ENS report, 12 April 2006

 

OUTDATED MERCURY TECHNOLOGY FACTORY CLOSES
A Washington D.C.-based group working to close down plants it says use outdated mercury technology for chlorine production has announced that three of the nine plants it has targeted have “committed to either switch to go mercury free or shut down.” The Oceana group announced in mid-April 2006 that Occidental Chemical had declared that it would shut down its mercury-based factory in Muscle Shoals, Louisiana.
 

Link to further information

Ocean news release, 18 April 2006

 

WWF SETS OUT POSITION ON CHEMICALS WITH ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING PROPERTIES
WWF has published a position paper outlining its views on how to include chemicals of “equivalent concern” in Authorization (Article 54 (f)) of the Council Common Position. The briefing proposes the European Parliament’s position on article 54 (f) as an appropriate solution and provides three examples (Phthalates, Bisphenol A and Deca-BDE) to illustrate their disagreement with the Council Common Position wording.
 

Link to further information

The paper

 

NATIONAL TRAINING ON POPS ACTION PLANS ANNOUNCED
An initiative has been launched to provide national-level training on Action Plan development and related technical and financial support to 15 Least Developed Countries that have signed or are Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

UNITAR, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and its other Implementing Agencies, The project is being funded by the GEF, with support from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU). The project builds on the experience gained and lessons learned through projects in more than 40 countries to-date (including a previous 25-LDC project) to assist in developing a wide variety of action plans on priority topics of sound chemicals management.

Link to further information

UNITAR announcement, April 2006

 

EPA RELEASES RISK ASSESSMENTS FOR ORGANIC ARSENIC HERBICIDES; SEEKS RISK MANAGEMENT IDEAS

The US Environmental Protection Agency is evaluating the potential risks associated with registered uses of the organic arsenic herbicides and cacodylic acid, and has identified few risks directly associated with use of these herbicides. However, the Agency is concerned about the potential transformation of products applied as organic arsenical herbicides to inorganic arsenic in plants, drinking water, and soil. The Agency has requested public comments by 5 June 5 2006, on its human health and environmental fate and effects risk assessments for the organic arsenic herbicides, as well as risk management ideas or proposals.

 

Link to further information

EPA announcement, 6 April 2006

 

PILOT PROJECT BETWEEN ROTTERDAM SECRETARIAT, UNITAR LAUNCHED

Starting in April 2006 and with funding from the Swiss Government, UNITAR will be supporting five pilot countries in developing national plans for the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention. The project, which was agreed at the second session of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, will build on existing documentation, such as National Profiles and National Implementation Plans developed under the Stockholm Convention, and will employ action plan development skills acquired through previous UNITAR training. Preliminary results of the pilot project will be presented to the third session of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in October 2006.

 

Link to further information

UNITAR's website

 

SUNSCREEN TESTS RAISE THYROID CONCERNS

German researchers have reported that chemicals found in many sunscreens may disrupt the production of thyroid hormone. Experiments on rats suggest that chemicals used in sunscreens that absorb ultraviolet light might also have an impact on the human thyroid. The thyroid gland secretes hormones that affect growth and metabolism.

 

Link to further information

New Scientist article, 3 April 2006

 

MARCH 2006

 

CIEL RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT POPS LEGISLATION

A legislative hearing by the US Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials has been held in early March 2006 to analyze the opposing considerations from two Congress representatives on how to implement U.S. legislation for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention. On 31 March 2006, the Center for International Environmental Law published a letter on its website responding to questions from the Chair of the Subcommittee of the House of representatives.

 

Links to further information

CIEL

U.S. House of representatives

 

SAICM NATIONAL FOCAL POINTS DESIGNATION UNDER WAY

The Secretariat of the recently adopted Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) has requested governments to designate their SAICM national focal points according to the provision made by the agreement.

 

Link to further information

SAICM Focal Points (1 March 2006)

 

PLANTS’ RESPONSE TO OZONE DEPLETION MAY HELP DECREASE PESTICIDE USE – EXPERTS

The way plants respond to increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation could lead to a decrease in the need for pesticides, according to a group of experts. Participants at a recent meeting in New Zealand of a group tasked with synthesizing the most recent scientific understanding of the environmental effects of ozone depletion – the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel – discussed plants’ response to increased UV radiation. Some scientists are hopeful that the pigment plants produce to protect themselves from UV radiation will also prove useful in protecting plants from pests.

 

Link to further information

United Press International article, 3 March 2006

 

EC APPLAUDS �REACH� CHEMICALS REGULATION

A new study to assess the benefits of the draft �REACH� regulation (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) has been conducted by independent researchers for the European Commission. The study aims to assess the benefits of REACH on the environment and to humans who are exposed to chemicals via the environment. The study found that the draft REACH legislation on chemicals could save the society billions of Euros in water treatment and other environmental costs such as sewage treatment.

 

Link to further information

Euractive web site

 

NEW CONTROLS PROPOSED ON GASOLINE, PASSENGER VEHICLES, GAS CANS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule to control hazardous air pollutants from mobile sources. The new standards would establish new controls on gasoline, passenger vehicles and gas cans to further reduce emissions of benzene and other mobile source air toxics.

 

Link to further information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency web site

 

U.S. CONGRESS CONSIDERS OPTIONS ON STOCKHOLM CONVENTION

A legislative hearing by the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials has taken place on 2 March 2006 to analyze the opposing considerations from two Congress representatives on how to implement U.S. legislation for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Whereas the bill introduced by one representative would protect human health and the environment, allowing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate new POPs, an alternative bill presented by the opposing representative would not cover health and environmental protection, thus making it more difficult for EPA to regulate dangerous chemicals.

 

Links to further information

The report from the hearing will be available shortly here.

CIEL

U.S. House of representatives

 

FEBRUARY 2006

 

FRENCH SHIP DISMANTLING EFFORTS OPPOSED

A decision by the French government to have a warship dismantled in India has raised objections from environmentalists. The vessel Clemenceau departed from France on 31 December 2005 with the objective of being dismantled in Alang, India. Greenpeace and three anti-asbestos groups had argued that the departure violated several articles of the Basel Convention, and the Basel Action Network released a report specifying such violations. However, a French court authorized the vessel�s departure on the grounds that it was exempt from the Basel Convention because it was a warship. Meanwhile, the Basel Convention secretariat has stated that it is not its mandate to render a legal judgment on the case, and that the individual States would need to be guided by their own national laws. The Secretariat stated that since France and India are both Parties to the Convention and they should reach a final conclusion on the case. Following interventions in both India and France, French President Jacques Chirac ordered the ship back to France on February 16, 2006.

Links to further information

BBC News

Greenpeace

Basel Action Network

Ministry of Defence of France

Basel Convention Secretariat

BBC News

The Basel Action Network recently released a similar case of a ship containing asbestos, which is now anchored in Malaysia. More information.

 

UNITAR, SWISS LAUNCH CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT PROJECT

The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is launching a pilot project to help three developing countries and one country in economic transition to develop an Integrated National Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste. The project, which is being funded by the Swiss Government and will start in September 2006, will focus on strengthening governance, stakeholder participation, and public-private partnerships to support national implementation of the recently-adopted �strategic approach to international chemicals management� (SAICM). Country projects will take place over a period of three years, from September 2006 to August 2009. The deadline for submitting an application package is 31 May 2006.
 

Link to further information

Applications to New Pilot Projects Linked to SAICM
 

JANUARY 2006

 

THE SONGHUA RIVER SPILL, CHINA DECEMBER 2005: FIELD STUDY REPORT

(UNEP, December 2005) A UN Environment Programme (UNEP) field mission was dispatched to China following a chemical spill in the Songhua River. A report by the mission team recommends considering a risk assessment of a random sample of Chinese chemical factories in order to strengthen safety related procedures so as to minimize the risk of accidents and the improved handling of accidents if they do occur. The report also suggests that the Chinese authorities consider implementing UNEP�s Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL), which seeks to boost the coordination of local communities to an environmental emergency, and has proven to be an effective contribution to the risk reduction of industrial accidents.
 

Link to further information

UNEP Report on Chemical Spill Incident in the Songhua River

 

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