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MEDIA REPORTS

CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2008

 

Chemicals Management Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2008

EUROPEAN COMMISSION WELCOMES VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT ON SAFE STORAGE OF MERCURY
The European Commission has welcomed and, for the first time, formally recognized a voluntary agreement to ensure the safe storage of surplus mercury from the European chlor-alkali industry, once a ban on exports of the highly toxic metal from the European Union takes effect. The legislation requires that mercury that is no longer used, be stored in manner that prevents its release. Euro Chlor, the European association of the chlor-alkali industry – the chemical industry sector responsible for chlorine and caustic soda production – has agreed to ensure safe storage under optimal conditions, when the legislation comes into effect in 2011.

Link to further information
Press release, 22 December 2008

NGO LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL “NO PESTICIDES USE DAY”
The global Pesticide Action Network launched “No Pesticides Use Day” on December 3, 2008. The day aims to draw attention to the life threatening impacts of chemical pesticides on people and the environment. The date was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, which occurred 3 December, 1984, and killed hundreds and injured thousands of people.

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network Asia and Pacific, 3 December 2008

NOVEMBER 2008

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BACKS PESTICIDES BAN
On 5 November 2008, the European Parliament's environment committee approved a ban on pesticides that are toxic to human health. The issue will now be taken up by EU member states, including some that favor a more lenient approach to pesticide use, in January 2010. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) agreed to compromises, including agreement that national action plans for reducing the volume of pesticides used should include quantitative targets. A minimum 50% reduction target is proposed for “active substances of very high concern” and those classified as “toxic or very toxic.” Another clause includes the possibility for member states to reject pesticides authorization granted by other EU countries, and to allow the continued usage of toxic substances when they are proven essential for crop survival. The committee's report on the authorization process restates MEPs’ support for hazard-based criteria for deciding approval of the most dangerous substance and recommends additional cut-off criteria for immunotoxic and neurotoxic substances.

Link to further information
Euroactiv, 6 November 2008

OCTOBER 2008

ILO, IMO, AND THE BASEL CONVENTION EXPERTS DISCUSS SHIP BREAKING
Experts from the International Labor Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Basel Convention secretariats met from 29-31 October 2008, to discuss measures to promote guidelines that would make ship breaking not only clean but also “green.” Mindful of the “One UN” approach, and following the recommendations of the Joint ILO/IMO/Basel Convention Working Group, the Secretariats of the Basel Convention, IMO and ILO, drafted a concept for a “Global Programme for Sustainable Ship Recycling” to promote a coordinated approach in addressing the issues faced by the ship recycling industry. The Global Programme is intended to establish a broad framework for activities to be undertaken in participant countries with a view to facilitating future implementation of the “International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships” and, prior to entry-into-force of the Convention, to promote the protection of human and health and the environment in the context of ship recycling activities.

Link to further information
Joint ILO/IMO/Basel Convention Working Group on Ship Scrapping, 31 October 2008

PESTICIDES DAMAGE BRAIN GROWTH
According to a recent Danish study, many pesticides used it the EU damage brain growth. The study, which was based on a review of 200 scientific reports about the brain and pesticides, focused on the use of pesticides in the EU, which is currently reviewing pesticide laws. The study said that pesticide chemicals that could be damaging included organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, ethylenebisdithiocarbamates and chlorophenoxy herbicides. It recommended increased testing and caution in approving chemicals because of uncertainties about their effects.

Link to further information
Environmental News Network, 24 October 2008

NEW STUDY HIGHLIGHTS PESTICIDE’S IMPACT ON FOOD CHAIN
According to a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, sublethal concentrations of commonly used pesticide malathion can indirectly hurt frog populations, by altering the food chain in aquatic ecosystems. After dosing wood frogs and leopard frogs with very small concentrations of malathion, the researchers discovered that the chemical did not kill the frogs directly—instead, they died from the indirect effects of the pesticide on tiny zooplankton and the entire food chain. The researchers concluded that the term sublethal is actually a “misnomer,” because the exposure is ultimately lethal but in an “insidious fashion.”

Link to further information
American Chemical Society, 15 October 2008

ENDOSULFAN RETRIEVED FROM PHILIPPINES VESSEL
According to newspaper reports, 402 barrels containing endosulfan were retrieved safely from the sunken MV Princess of the Stars, in the Philippines. The vessel capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon, Philippines, on 21 June 2008, during a typhoon. It was carrying more than 800 crew and passengers. According to reports, priority was given to the retrieval of the pesticide endosulfan, to ensure the safety of those who would retrieve the remains of over 500 victims. Endosulfan is a neurotoxic organochlorine insecticide of the cyclodiene family of pesticides. It is an endocrine disruptor and is acutely toxic. A European Union proposal to consider listing endosulfan under the Stockholm Convention was considered this week at the fourth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC4). 

Link to further information
The Manila Times, 6 October 2008

TRIAL OVER COTE D’IVOIRE TOXIC DUMPING UNDERWAY
A trial is underway in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, against a dozen people accused of involvement in a toxic waste scandal in August 2006. Charges include poisoning, complicity to poison and breaking environmental and public safety laws. A key defendant and head of the Cote d’Ivoire company Tommy claims he was mislead by the Dutch multinational Trafigura, saying he was not told the waste from the Panamanian-registered cargo ship Probo Koala was dangerous. The waste “slops” were dumped at public sites across Abidjan, and killed 17 people while sickening thousands of others. The “slops” were a mixture of petroleum residues, sulfur and caustic soda, which had accumulated in the ship. The trial continues and the accused face life imprisonment if convicted.

Links to further information
France 24, 1 October 2008

Terra Daily, 1 October 2008

SEPTEMBER 2008

FEARS CHINA’S MILK SCANDAL MAY SPREAD
According to newspaper reports, the EU has ordered rigorous testing of imports containing at least 15 percent milk powder, after concluding that food containing tainted milk powder from China may be in Europe, putting children at risk. Problems with milk powder produced in China emerged in early September 2008, and in recent weeks milk products contaminated with the chemical melamine have sickened more than 50,000 young children. Melamine is a chemical used in plastic manufacturing that can be added to foods to artificially increase their protein content in testing. Its presence was detected in pet foods originating from China in 2007. 

Link to further information
New York Times, 26 September 2008

REPORT FINDS E-WASTE EXPORT INADEQUATELY REGULATED IN THE US
According to a report commissioned by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the US Government Accountability Office has found that US hazardous waste regulations have not stopped exports of toxic used electronics to developing countries. The report says this is partly because regulations are not being enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and partly because the regulations are too limited to deal with the growing problem. Current US regulations address only one type of electronics, old-fashioned, rectangular monitors. Exports of other e-waste currently flow unrestricted. The report faults the EPA for not assessing the extent of noncompliance, and indicates that EPA officials told investigators they have neither plans nor a timetable to develop an enforcement program.

Link to further information
Environmental News Service, 18 September 2008

PESTICIDE EXPOSURE LINKED TO DEPRESSION
Researchers from the University of Iowa, US, evaluated diagnosed depression and pesticide exposure among privately employed pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina between 1993 and 1997. The researchers found that pesticide poisoning was more strongly associated with depression. The study concluded that "both acute high-intensity and cumulative positive exposure may contribute to depression in pesticide applicators.” The study is unique in reporting that depression is also associated with chronic pesticide exposure in the absence of a physician-diagnosed poisoning.

Link to further information
Environmental Health Perspectives, 9 September 2008

UK CLASSROOMS CONTAIN TOXIC CHEMICALS
According to recent newspaper reports, dust extracted from UK school rooms contained high concentrations of pollutants which accumulate in human tissue and could create health problems. The study undertaken by researchers at the University of Birmingham identified concentrations of a harmful chemical found in furniture, carpets and wall insulation, as well as a pollutant used to flame-proof electronic equipment, at “significantly greater” concentrations in classrooms than in offices.

Link to further information
The Daily Telegraph, 5 September 2008

GHANA BANS 25 PESTICIDES
Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has banned the import of 25 agro-chemicals because of their toxicological risks to human health, animals, crops and the environment. The ban includes toxaphene, aldrin, endrin, chlordane, captafol and DDT. The Ghanian EPA is also encouraging Ghanian scientists to put more emphasis on biological control methods to reduce the over-reliance on chemicals. Aldrin, endrin and DDT are being phased out under the Stockholm Convention, and chlordane is under consideration for inclusion in the Convention.

Link to further information
Ghana Graphic, 1 September 2008

AUGUST 2008

EXXON SETTLES OVER PCB LEAK OFF CALIFORNIAN COAST
According to reports, between 2002 and 2005, two large electrical transformers on an Exxon Mobil offshore oil and gas platform in the Santa Barbara Channel leaked nearly 400 gallons of fluid contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Following a settlement agreement announced in August 2008, Exxon Mobil will pay a $2.64 million fine to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Exxon also failed to ensure that workers who cleaned up the leaked fluid were provided with protective clothing or equipment to guard against direct contact with and inhalation of PCBs. In 2005, Exxon replaced the two transformers with others that contain no PCBs. It was concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment that led the US Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976. Internationally, PCBs are being phased out under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, however the US is not party to this Convention.

Link to further information
Environmental News Service, 25 August 2008

INDIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION OVER BHOPAL
On 8 August 2008, the Government of India announced it would take legal action on the civil and criminal liabilities of Union Carbide and its owner, Dow Chemical Company, for the Bhopal disaster. It announced it would also establish an “Empowered Commission” on Bhopal, to address the health and welfare needs of the Bhopal survivors as well as environmental, social, economic and medical rehabilitation. The announcement followed numerous actions by the survivors, including a 172-day demonstration, a 500 mile walk and a 60-day hunger fast. The US-based Dow Chemical Company maintains it bears no responsibility for the disaster, which activists say killed more than 22,000 people, left many of the 150,000 survivors with serious ailments, and currently poisons the drinking water for 25,000 residents.

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network North America, 14 August 2008

STUDY LINKS AGENT ORANGE TO PROSTATE CANCER
A study by researchers at the University of California Davis Cancer Center involved the review of more than 13,000 Vietnam veterans’ medical records. The study found that soldiers exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange and its contaminant, dioxintetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD), were almost four times more likely to develop prostate cancer. Agent Orange has been linked to leukemia, Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Link to further information
Science Daily, 5 August 2008

ATMOSPHERIC EMISSIONS OF MERCURY REPORT RELEASED
In response to UNEP GC decision 24/3 IV, the UNEP Chemicals Mercury Programme has released the draft report “Atmospheric Emissions of Mercury: Inventory, Sources and Transport,” and invites comments from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders. Comments should be submitted to gfutsaeter@chemicals.unep.ch, by 10 August 2008. The report will be submitted to the Governing Council’s 25th Session in 2009.

Link to further information
UNEP Mercury Programme website

JULY 2008

STUDY FINDS INCREASED POISONING BY ‘SAFE’ PESTICIDES
A recent study by the US Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has identified that poisoning by pyrethrins (and their synthetic counterparts pyrethroids) has risen by 63% from 1998 to 2006. The study concludes that the rise of poisonings reflects the growing use of these ‘safe’ pesticides in insect repellents, pet shampoos and children’s lice treatments. In response to the CPI's report, the director of the US Environment Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs has announced plans for a broad study of these chemicals.

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network North America, 31 July 2008

STUDY FINDS FALLING CONCENTRATIONS OF TOXIC CHEMICALS IN ARCTIC ANIMALS
Results of a recent Canadian Government study suggest that concentrations of toxic chemicals in Arctic animals are dropping. The study found carcinogens such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorines have levelled off or have begun declining. PCB levels in beluga, narwhal, walrus and ringed seal have fallen by an average of 43% since 1997. The study suggests these falling concentrations are evidence that the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which came into force in 2004, is effective. The study also found that mercury, from air pollution from coal fired power generation, increased 42% in ringed seal flesh, although the average exposure increase for humans was marginal. The UN is considering the issue of mercury and the need for global action through the UNEP Open-Ended Working Group on Mercury, which is scheduled to convene for its second meeting in October 2008.

Link to further information
CBC News, 14 July 2008

FRENCH GOVERNMENT TO ASSIST IN CARIBBEAN POPs PROJECT
The French Government will provide US$51 million over the next three years to Guadeloupe and Martinique, to impose stricter limits on the amount of chlordecone (also known as kepone). Laboratories will also be equipped to test for the presence of kepone. Concerns over chlordecone use arose in 2007, when it was suggested that use of the chemical may be linked to increased cancer rates on both islands. Chlordecone has been considered by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), and recommended for inclusion in Annex A (elimination) of the Convention. Parties will take a decision on inclusion of this chemical at the fourth Conference to the Parties in May 2009.

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network North America, 3 July 2008

JUNE 2008

ENDOSULFAN HAZARD ON SUNKEN PHILIPPINES FERRY
According to news reports, rescue and salvage efforts for the Princess of the Stars ferry have been halted in the Philippines, after information came to light that the capsized vessel contained 20,000 lbs of endosulfan. The seven-story vessel, which capsized in a typhoon on 21 June, will now be refloated, and this is expected to take two months. The Government of the Philippines has banned the consumption of seafood caught in the area. Endosulfan, an endocrine-disrupting pesticide, was being transported illegally aboard the passenger vessel and was destined for Del Monte pineapple plantations, which is exempt from a Government ban on the use of the pesticide. The Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee will consider a proposal from the EU to schedule endosulfan in the Convention at its fourth meeting in October 2008.

Link to further information
GMA News, 30 June 2008

GARDENERS’ CROPS IN THE UK CONTAMINATED
According to newspaper reports, gardeners in the UK have reported severely deformed vegetables, due to contamination by manure originating from farms where the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid was sprayed on fields. The Royal Horticultural Society warned gardeners not to eat the contaminated home-grown vegetables. Dow AgroSciences, which manufacturers aminopyralid, has advised gardeners not to replant on the affected soil for at least a year.

Link to further information
The Guardian, 29 June 2008

STUDY EXAMINES EFFORTS TO LIMIT CHEMICAL USE THROUGH TAXATION According to a recent study of chemical fertilizer taxes in Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, taxation schemes led to a reduction in fertilizer use by farmers over the last two decades. The authors suggest that taxation schemes could play a more significant role in chemicals policy, beyond fertilizers, by careful targeting environmentally damaging chemicals. The study suggests the tax level on each chemical should be proportional to the damage caused by the substance, but concedes there is also a danger of administrative burden.

Link to further information
Science for Environment Policy, 26 June 2008

NEW PESTICIDES LAW FOR EU
According to news reports, the European Union has agreed to proposed changes to the pesticide authorization law. The changes seek to reduce the number of crop chemicals available in EU markets. The proposal, to be debated by the European Parliament in late 2008, would allow groups of countries with similar geographic and climatic conditions to take decisions on the use of specific products. Currently, pesticide use is approved for individual countries. Under the new arrangement, rules would be tightened for more toxic pesticides, while those seen as less hazardous to human and animal health would become easier to approve. According to Europe's pesticides industry, the new law will remove products from the market that have been used safely for years, as it uses a hazard-based, not risk-based, approach.

Link to further information
Reuters News Story, 23 June 2008

STUDY FINDS HOUSEHOLD WASTE IS AN EFFECTIVE FERTILIZER
A recent Swedish study investigated the effects of the use of organic waste from different sources as a fertilizer. Researchers investigated changes in soil microbial and chemical properties following applications of compost, biogas production residue and sewage sludge, as well as traditional fertilizers such as pig or cow manure and NPS mineral fertilizers. They found that, in relation to improved soil health, the compost and biogas residue performed equally well or better than the other fertilizers.

Link to more information
Science for Environment Policy, 12 June 2008

NRDC CLAIMS EPA SCIENTISTS' ANALYSIS HINDERED BY WHITE HOUSE
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a new White House policy interferes with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) programme. IRIS evaluates the risks of chemicals and their associated human health impacts, and is used by EPA offices and states to set standards for drinking water, air pollution and waste cleanups. NDRC claims the new White House policy will delay scientific assessments of chemicals’ health risks and hinder opportunities for public comment and scientific debate. Congress has also been probing White House policy. North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller, Chair of the House Science Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight, said “the White House has effectively blocked the USEPA from posting new health assessments of hazardous chemicals by prolonging the assessments because of inevitable uncertainties about the interaction of chemicals and human health.”

Links to more information
Natural Resources Defense Council, 12 June 2008
Environmental News Service, 12 June 2008

UK ADOPTS IAASTD RECOMMENDATIONS
The UK has adopted the recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), calling for an end to input-intensive, trade-driven agriculture and renewed support for sustainable, local, smaller-scale agro-ecological farming. The UK became the 58th of 61 countries who participated in the final IAASTD report review to endorse the call for "A New Era of Agriculture." The US, Canada and Australia have not adopted the document.

Links to more information
UK Parliament, 6 June 2008
IAASTD website

UGANDA HIGH COURT BANS DDT
According to reports, on 6 June 2008, the Ugandan High Court ruled that indoor residual spraying of DDT must cease. The Ministry of Health began application of DDT to prevent malaria infection in February in the north of the country. The ruling is in response to complaints filed by groups of organic farmers, traders and conservationists, who claimed that European buyers of organic products would refuse shipments if any traces of DDT were identified. DDT is being phased out under the Stockholm Convention.

Links to more information
All Africa, 6 June 2008
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31 May 2008

MAY 2008

INDIAN GOVERNMENT AGREES TO CONVENE PANEL FOR BHOPAL VICTIMS
According to newspaper reports, more that 23 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy at Union Carbide’s Bhopal pesticide plant, which killed more than 20,000 people, the Government of India agreed to convene an empowered commission to assess the medical, economic, social and environmental rehabilitation of the victims. The announcement was made by Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Prithviraj Chavan, after meeting the victims who had walked from Bhopal to Delhi and staged a two-month sit-in.

Link to more information
The Times of India, 29 May 2008

STUDY LINKS LEAD EXPOSURE TO VIOLENT CRIME
A recent study undertaken by researchers at the University of Cincinnati has linked high concentrations of lead in the blood of fetuses and young children to higher rates of criminal arrests in adulthood. The study found that the strongest association between childhood blood-lead concentration and criminal behaviour was for arrests involving acts of violence. The use of lead paint has been banned in many countries, but many houses are still painted with lead paint. Lead from exterior household paint also commonly migrates into soils. At its 24th session, the UNEP Governing Council discussed the issue of lead. It recognized the need to fill information gaps regarding lead and cadmium and requested the UNEP Executive Director to compile an inventory of existing risk management measures.

Links to more information
Environmental News Service, 28 May 2008

IISD RS summary report of the 24th session of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF)

ENVIRONMENTALISTS PRAISE PROPER SHIP BREAKING
Environmental NGOs welcomed the cleaning and decontamination of the former chemical tanker “Otapan,” in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. According to the Basel Action Network, following pressure from the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, the Turkish Prevention of Hazardous Shipbreaking Initiative and Greenpeace Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Environment agreed to full compliance with the Basel Convention and its decisions on the transboundary movement of wastes, including a requirement to pre-clean vessels of all toxic substances, such as asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), prior to export.

Link to more information
The Basel Action Network, 16 May 2008

TALCUM POWDER LINKED TO OVARIAN CANCER
A US coalition of public health experts, medical doctors and consumer organizations is petitioning the US Government for warning labels on cosmetic talcum powder products. The petition is a response to an analysis of 16 studies that confirmed a statistically significant, 33% increased risk, associated with the use of talc around the perineum. According to the coalition, labels should explain that frequent application in the female genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Link to further information
Environmental News Service, 15 May 2008

APRIL 2008

PESTICIDE BANS DO NOT REDUCE AGRICULTURAL OUTPUT – STUDY
A Sri Lankan study on the impacts of banning insecticides monocrotophos, methamidophos, and endosulfan found no reduction in agricultural productivity after the bans were introduced. The chemicals were banned in the 1990s in an effort to reduce fatal poisonings and suicides. The study, which was published in the April 2008 issue of the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives,
concluded that where affordable substitutes exist for pest control, there is no significant impact on agricultural output.

Link to more information
Article, April 2008

BHOPAL DISASTER STILL CAUSING BIRTH DEFECTS - REPORT
Hundreds of children are still being born with birth defects every year as a result of the industrial disaster 23 years ago in the central Indian town of Bhopal, according to news reports. Campaigners are demanding that the Indian Government provide the families affected with medical care. According to reports, the disused Union Carbide factory still contains about 8000 tonnes of carcinogenic chemicals which continue to leach and contaminate water supplies used by some 30,000 people.

Link to more information
The Guardian newspaper, 30 April 2008 

INSECTICIDE KILLS KENYAN WILDLIFE
According to newspaper reports, five hippopotamuses have died and four lions were paralyzed after being exposed to carbofuran in the Maasai Mara in Kenya, in late April. Traces of the granular insecticide, which is used to kill insects, were found in both the hippopotamus carcasses and areas where they grazed. The sick lions had been feeding on the hippopotamus carcasses. Kenyan conservationists have urged the Kenyan government to follow the example of Europe and the US by banning the import and sale of carbofuran.

Link to more information
International Herald Tribune, 28 April 2008

GLOBAL WARMING MAKES FISH MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO PESTICIDES – STUDY
Australian researchers have found that global warming, and associated sea water temperature rise, may make fish more susceptible to dying from pesticide-contaminated water. The study also found the reverse – that pesticide exposure may make fish more prone to dying from rising water temperatures. Fish exposed to sub-lethal concentrations of endosulfan and chlorpyrifos (two pesticides still widely used on Australia’s cotton fields) showed “significant reductions” in the ability to survive in warmer waters. Endosulfan will be considered by the Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee for inclusion in the Stockholm Convention at its next meeting in October 2008. The Committee is likely to draw on the new research when considering if, as a result of the long-range environmental transport of endosulfan, the chemical is likely to lead to significant adverse human health and/or environmental effects such that global action is warranted.

Links to more information
PANNA, 10 April 2008
Stockholm Convention

CHEMICAL IN PLASTICS MAY HINDER CHILD BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
According to a report by the US National Toxicology Program, an estrogen-like chemical in plastic could be harming the development of children’s brains and reproductive organs. The report found that bisphenol A (BPA) harmed animals when they were exposed at the low concentrations found in nearly all humans. BPA is one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in industry today. Canada took steps on 18 April 2008 to ban polycarbonate infant bottles, after officially declaring BPA toxic.

Links to more information
Los Angeles Times, 16 April 2008

New York Times, 19 April 2008

ENDOSULFAN BANNED IN BENIN

On 19 February 2008, the Government of Benin announced its plans to end the use of endosulfan. The decision follows the 2007 report from Benin's Health Ministry, which indicates that 20 endosulfan deaths had been recorded in northern Benin through its application on cotton crops. The European Union has already banned the use of the chemical and endosulfan will be considered by the Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee in October 2008, for inclusion in the Convention. It will also be considered by the parties to the Rotterdam Convention at the fourth Conference of the Parties, in October 2008, for inclusion in the Prior Informed Consent Procedure.

Links to further information

Pesticide Action Network North America, 3 April 2008

Rotterdam Convention
Stockholm Convention’s Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee

 

MARCH 2008

 

DDT IDENTIFIED IN CHINA’S PEARL RIVER DELTA

The journal “Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry” has published a major report on China’s environmental health. Researchers identified polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, in the Pearl River Delta in south China’s Guangdong Province. The study also found residues of endocrine-disrupting organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) in the Delta, including high concentrations of DDT in both surface water and sediments. The use of DDT in agriculture was banned in China in 1983. After long periods of decomposition, DDT residues should mainly exist in the form of its metabolite dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE). The study concluded the identification of DDT, as opposed to DDE, raises the possibility of new DDT discharges. In China, DDT is still found in oil-based paints and is also used to make the chemically-related pesticide dicofol, and these represent two potential sources.

 

Link to further information
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, March 2008

 

PESTICIDE USE LINKED TO PARKINSON’S DISEASE

A new study, which involved scientists from Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence and several universities, found strong evidence that exposure to pesticides significantly increases the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The study included 600 people and found that those exposed to pesticides had a 1.6 times higher risk of developing Parkinson’s. The disorder, which normally develops later in life and can affect movement and speech, is also influenced by genetic factors. Those characterized as “heavy users,” classed as over 200 days exposure over a lifetime, carried over double the risk of developing the disease.

 

Link to further information

BBC News, 28 March 2008

PESTICIDE EXPOSURE LINKED TO GULF WAR SYNDROME, STUDY FINDS
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have concluded that organophosphate and carbamate acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AchEas), including pyridostigmine bromide (PB), pesticides and nerve agents, are responsible for Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) in veterans. According to the study, approximately 250,000 of the 1990-91 Gulf War veterans subsequently experienced chronic fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss and other symptoms, a condition known as GWS. During the Gulf War, soldiers were exposed to pesticides used to eliminate sand flies.

Link to further information
US National Academy of Sciences, 10 March 2008

PAKISTAN CABINET RATIFIES STOCKHOLM CONVENTION
The caretaker Federal Cabinet in Pakistan announced a series of environmental initiatives in early February 2008. These included the Cabinet’s approval of the ratification of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network North America, 6 March 2008

AGENT ORANGE SUIT REJECTED
On 22 February 2008, a US Court of Appeal upheld the decision of a New York judge that Vietnamese civilians exposed to the pesticide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War could not sue the manufacturer of the substance or the US government for damages. Millions of people were exposed to Agent Orange, a defoliant containing the dioxin 2,4-D, during the war. The judge ruled the chemical was used to protect US troops, and not to as a weapon of war against human populations. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is phasing out and eliminating the use of twelve organic pollutants, including dioxins, to protect human health and the environment.

Link to further information
International Business Times, 22 February 2008
Stockholm Convention website

FEBRUARY 2008

 

BHOPAL SURVIVORS MARCH TO DELHI

On 20 February, survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide disaster, when poisonous gas leaked from a factory in Bhopal, began a 500-mile padyatra (pilgrimage by foot) to assert their rights to justice and a life of dignity and health. The survivors claim that Dow Chemical (the site’s owner since it purchased Union Carbide) and the Indian government have failed to address concerns about contaminated water, which they say is consumed by 20,000 people, as well as the fact that 10-15 people a day are dying from chemical exposure. The survivors are calling for clean drinking water, medical care, economic rehabilitation, and environmental clean up.

 

Link to further information
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal, 20 February 2008

 

INDUSTRY GROUP SUES NGO OVER PESTICIDES REPORT

The Agrochemicals Policy Group, which represents the pesticide industry, has filed a defamation case against New Delhi NGO Toxic Links, according to a report in an Indian newspaper. According to The Hindu newspaper, the industry group’s lawsuit was filed in response to the Toxic Links campaign, “The Killing Fields of Warangal,” which links the death of farmers in Warangal to the spraying of pesticides. According to the Agrochemicals Policy Group, the article was intended to malign the Indian pesticide industry. Other industry groups, including the Endosulfan Manufacturers and Formulators Association, said the NGO’s action had a negative impact on the manufacture of agrochemicals.

 

Endosulfan is one of the chemicals to be considered for inclusion in the Stockholm Convention, by the Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee (POPRC) at its next meeting in late 2008. It was to be considered at the group’s last meeting in November 2007, but the proposal was deferred by the EU, which cited the need to compile further evidence on the characteristics of the chemical, including its persistence and potential for long-range environmental transportation.

 

Link to further information
The Hindu, 14 February, 2008

NGO REPORTS DEPARTURE OF TOXIC SHIP FROM SAN FRANCISCO
The Basel Action Network (BAN), a non-governmental organization (NGO) focused on toxic trade, has reported that an ex-ocean liner, the SS Independence (aka SS Oceanic), was towed on 8 February 2008 from San Francisco, toward Singapore. BAN labeled the action a breach of US and international law because the vessel is suspected of containing large quantities of hazardous materials, such as toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and asbestos, the export and import of which are prohibited under laws in the US and Singapore. The Basel Convention, an international treaty controlling trade in toxic waste, prevents any country that is party to the Convention, such as Singapore, from trading in waste with any country that is not a party to the Convention, such as the US.

Link to further information
Basel Action Network, 12 February 2008

STUDY EVALUATES PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANT EMISSIONS IN EUROPE
A recent study has evaluated the effectiveness of a protocol to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). The LRTAP persistent organic pollutants (POPs) protocol covers the pesticides hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and hexachlorobenzene, and industrial chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls. To evaluate the effectiveness of the protocol at reducing the release of POPs, researchers carried out a detailed survey of their sources and the amounts released in each of the UNECE countries, excluding Canada and the US. The analysis revealed that dioxins, furans and HCH decreased significantly between the years 1990 and 2000. Using future activity scenarios developed under the Clean Air for Europe programme, the researchers predict that emissions will be further reduced by 2020, if the LRTAP POP protocol is fully implemented by all countries. These findings are significant for the global Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which is currently entering into its first phase of effectiveness evaluation and developing a global monitoring plan for POPs. 

Link to further information
Science for Environment Policy, 7 February 2008
Stockholm Convention

BIOCONTROL STUDIED AS ALTERNATIVE TO CHEMICAL PESTICIDES
Recent UK research suggests that biocontrol, which involves the use of beneficial bacteria or fungi to control plant disease and pests, could be developed as an alternative to pesticides. The research focused on developing a method to apply biocontrol agents to seeds before they are planted. Prior to planting, seeds are routinely pre-treated with chemical pesticides to protect the plant against diseases and pests. The UK researchers demonstrated that biocontrol agents can also be applied to seeds during drum priming, a seed preparation method that is used commercially to improve germination. Researchers also highlighted that the future development of these biocontrol agents and other “biopesticides” (any biologically-based agent used for the control of plant pests) will depend on changes to chemical regulations, which are currently designed for synthetic chemicals.


Link to further information

Science for Environment Policy, 7 February 2008

SALES OF HARMFUL PESTICIDES BANNED IN FRANCE
As part of a plan to halve pesticide use in agriculture over the next ten years, the French Government has introduced a ban on sales of harmful pesticides. The ban entered into force on 1 February 2008 and includes thirty active substances used in 1,500 products. These include paraquat, fenarimol and procymidone. Stakeholders agreed to the ban in 2007 as part of a major consultation on France's future environmental policy. According to the French Government, a further 20 active substances will be banned by the end of 2008.

Link to further information
Environmental News Daily, 4 February 2008 (requires subscription for full story)
Planet Ark/Reuters, 4 February 2008

JANUARY 2008

 

UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TOXIC WASTE VISITS TANZANIA

The Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Okechukwu Ibeanu (Nigeria), visited Tanzania from 21-30 January 2008. The objective of his mission was to gather information on the impact that mining activities are having on the environment and on human rights, and to study the movement and use of chemicals. He cited concern about the large volume of unregulated small-scale mining using mercury and the activities of many large-scale mining operations. Ibeanu also called on the Tanzanian Government to monitor more closely its occupational health and safety standards as well as relations between the mining corporations and the surrounding communities.

 

Link to further information
UN press release, 30 January 2008


HARMFUL CHEMICALS RELEASED FROM PLASTIC BOTTLES

New research indicates that the clear polycarbonate plastic bottles used by athletes and hikers release the endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) if the liquids they contain are hot. BPA is widely used in products such as reusable water bottles, food can linings, water pipes and dental sealants, and has been shown to affect reproduction and brain development in animal studies. The researchers found that BPA was released up to 55 times more rapidly when these bottles are exposed to hot water.

 

Link to further information

Environmental News Service, 30 January 2008

 

PESTICIDES MAY IMPACT BARRIER REEF

According to recent reports, run-off from recent flooding associated with a monsoonal low in Queensland, Australia, could impact the Great Barrier Reef. Representatives from the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) said the floodwaters brought a new threat and that pesticides used on farms, as well as heavy metals at mine sites in the coal-rich Bowen Basin, could impact the reef. The report indicated that the floodwaters caused the river estuaries to be flushed out, destroying all the fish breeding habitats and overwhelming the environment. The QCC said the reef could take years to recover.

 

Link to further information
The Australian, 29 January 2008

 

RESEARCHERS CONSIDER LINK BETWEEN PESTICIDE EXPOSURE AND TYPE 2 DIABETES

Researchers from Cambridge are advocating further research into possible links between environmental pollution and Type II diabetes. The researchers cited peer reviewed studies demonstrating a strong relationship between the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in blood, including a Korean study that found people with high concentrations of POPs in their blood are more likely to develop insulin resistance, a precursor for type 2 diabetes. Acknowledging that correlation does not imply causation, the researchers said further studies were necessary to test the hypothesis that POPs exposure can cause diabetes, perhaps using cell or tissue cultures.

 

Link to further information

Environmental News Service, 25 January 2008

 

GERMANY ASSISTING TANZANIA IN DDT DISPOSAL

The Government of Germany is assisting the Government of Tanzania in disposing of a stockpile of DDT totalling 50 tonnes. The granular DDT has been stored in poor conditions in the Korogwe District of Tanzania for over 30 years. Germany, through the German Technical Corporation (GTZ), is collecting the chemical and will ship the DDT to Germany for destruction. DDT was commonly used to curtail malarial mosquitoes, but is being phased out under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

 

Link to further information
Pesticide Action Network North America, 17 January 2008

 

SPANISH STUDY IDENTIFIES PESTICIDES IN POPULATION

A study by the University of Granada, Spain, examined the concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in a sample of the adult population (387 individuals). According to the results, which were released  in late 2007, 100% of Spaniards have detectable concentrations of at least one POP in their bodies. The six POPs analyzed included compounds related to industrial processes, such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), fungicides, and insecticides. Researchers detected more of these substances in women than in men, and more in adults than younger people. The study concluded that diet is a contributing factor and argues that the “ingestion of some aliments, particularly those of animal origin and high fat content, triggers a greater presence” of these substances in humans.

 

Link to further information

EurActive.com website, 8 January 2008

 

NEW METHOD SPEEDS REMOVAL OF POLLUTANTS FROM MOLLUSCS

Researches at the Universitat Jaume I and the Spanish Research Council have patented a method to remove organic pollutants, such as pesticide residues, from bivalve molluscs. Bivalve molluscs (including mussels, oysters, clams and cockles) obtain their food by filtering sea water to retain the organic particles it contains. In addition to nutrients, however, molluscs accumulate suspended particles such as organic pollutants, which enter humans when the molluscs are eaten. Chronic exposure to pesticides and other pollutants is associated to a higher risk of developing cancer and certain neurodegenerative disorders. In the past, decontamination has consisted of treating molluscs with filtered, sterilized water, or by applying hydrostatic pressure at high temperatures for 48 hours. The new method improves this process and reduces the time required to remove pesticides from the tissues of molluscs.

 

Link to further information

Fish Farmer Magazine, 5 December 2007

 

US ANNOUNCES 2008 METHYL BROMIDE PRODUCTION AND CRITICAL USE EXEMPTIONS

The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has issued final methyl bromide production and import critical use exemptions for 2008. Under the Montreal Protocol, industrial nations agreed to end all use of methyl bromide by 2005, because it is a potent ozone depletor. Since 2004 however, some countries have invoked a �critical use exemption� to extend their deadline. The EPA authorized 4,813,452 kilograms (4,813.5 metric tonnes) of methyl bromide for approved critical uses in 2008, which will include strawberry and tomato production, as well as commodity fumigation. This amount is less than the amount authorized by the meeting of the Montreal Protocol parties, which authorized 5,355,946 kilograms. According to the EPA, the authorized amount was adjusted to account for the increased use of alternatives among methyl bromide users, and unused methyl bromide from previous years, effectively reducing more than 500,000 kilograms of potential methyl bromide releases.

 

Link to further information

US EPA Newsroom, 20 December 2007

 

POPS IDENTIFIED IN WOOD FLOOR FINISH

According to a US study, a wood floor finish popularly used throughout the 1950s and 1960s in the US may be a significant source of the banned substance Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). The study examined older woman living in homes with a PCB-containing wood floor finish, and found very high indoor air, dust and blood concentrations of PCBs, even 50 years after the floors were installed. The study cautioned that many buildings, including school buildings, may still harbor PCB-containing floor finished or other products. PCBs are being phased out under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Like all POPs, they are bioaccumulative and can damage the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, as well as cause breast cancer.

Link to further information
Environmental News Network, 16 January 2007

 

CHINA TO UNDERTAKE FIRST NATIONAL POLLUTION SURVEY AND INCREASE PESTICIDE CONTROL
The Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) has announced that the first nationwide census of pollution sources will begin in February 2008. The survey will identify sources of industrial, agricultural and residential pollution and also calculate the number of environmental remediation facilities in operation. Collection of environmental data is anticipated to take two months and the data will be reviewed and analyzed in the second half of 2008. In related news, the Chinese Agricultural Ministry has also announced it will withdraw thousands of pesticides from the shelves to improve regulation of their sale and use. Currently, farmers are faced with some 23,000 products sold under 16,000 names, leaving them unclear as to what they are spraying on their crops and in what quantities. China has struggled to regulate its food production system in the face of health and safety concerns in its export markets.

Links to further information
Environmental News Service, 4 January 2008
Environmental News Network, 19 December 2007

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