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CHEMICAL SAFETY

INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS MEETING ON PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS: This meeting, which took place in Vancouver, Canada, from 4-8 June 1995, explored the dimensions of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) problem and outlined opportunities for global action. More than 100 people from over 40 countries participated in the meeting, which was co-sponsored by Canada and the Philippines.

Participants highlighted significant concerns posed to human health and the environment by certain POPs; identified and analyzed the technical, institutional, social, economic, financial and management issues inherent to certain POPs; and identified key elements involved in developing effective global management strategies for certain POPs. Participants concluded that there is enough scientific information on the adverse human health and environmental impacts of POPs to warrant coherent action at the national, regional and international levels. This will include bans, phase-outs and provisional restrictions for certain POPs. The evidence of human health and environmental impacts warrants the application of the Precautionary Approach, as described in the Rio Declaration, although in the view of some participants, this should be set in the context of overall risk management. Effective management strategies and solutions require cooperative action by all stakeholders and must include an appropriate mix of voluntary, market-based and regulatory mechanisms. The participants also identified criteria to determine and evaluate practical strategies and mechanisms for effective global action, and stressed the importance of public participation at all levels of decision-making. For further information, contact Helen Anderson, Environment Canada, tel: +1-819-953-8905; fax: +1-819-953-3173.