UN: Treaty expanded by 9 more dangerous chemicals

May 09, 2009 By ELIANE ENGELER , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- A U.N.-sponsored treaty to combat highly dangerous chemicals has been expanded beyond the original "dirty dozen" to include nine more substances that are used in pesticides, flame retardants and other products, U.N. officials said Saturday.

A 160-nation meeting this week added the chemicals - labeled as posing a risk to people's health and the environment - to the list of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs, which bans or restricts their use, according to a statement by the U.N. Environment Program.

"The tremendous impact of these substances on human health and the environment has been acknowledged today," said Achim Steiner, the U.N. undersecretary-general who heads the program.

The 2004 treaty aims to protect the environment and people's health from very dangerous chemicals that last a long time in the Earth's atmosphere, soil or water and ultimately phase them out.

The treaty has so far included the dirty dozen list of 12 chemicals, such as the widely banned pesticides DDT and chlordane. Countries that have ratified the treaty also enact national legislation to enforce the bans and restrictions it imposes.

The use of DDT in sprays to kill malaria-spreading mosquitoes has been allowed under an exception in the treaty. But the U.N. environmental and health agencies said this week that there are good alternatives to combat malaria. They announced the aim of phasing out DDT completely by the early 2020s.

The so-called POPs pose a risk to humans and the environment because they often damage reproductive health, can lead to problems, cause cancer or impede normal growth, said Donald Cooper, executive secretary to the treaty.

The pollutants have some characteristics that make them exceptionally dangerous, he said.

"These chemicals transit boundaries. They are found everywhere in the world," Cooper said. "They don't go away. They persist in the atmosphere, they persist in the soil, in the water for extremely long periods of time."

The chemicals accumulate in the environment up through the food chain and stay in people's bodies, he said.

"Once you have a small amount in your body," Cooper said, "it doesn't go away and you add another bit, and another bit and another bit, it keeps adding up and getting worse and worse."

In its additions, the meeting decided to ban chlordecone, which was used as an agricultural pesticide; hexabromobiphenyl, an industrial that was used as a flame retardant; and lindane, which has been used in insecticides for soil, wood and animals.

Lindane is only produced by a few countries today and chlordecone and hexabromobiphenyl are actually not used anymore, said David Ogden, coordinator for the treaty.

But their inclusion in the treaty is to make sure that these chemicals remain banned, he said.

The meeting also decided to restrict the use, production and trade of so-called PFOS, a toxic chemical used in many electronic applications, such as semiconductor chips.

PFOS has been the most difficult chemical to list because it is still widely used, Cooper said.

"The trade in PFOS is extensive. It is easily in the billions of dollars on an annual basis and over a very wide area of products," said Cooper.

---

Associated Press writer Alexander G. Higgins contributed to this report.
©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Unprecedented use of DDT concerns experts

May 04, 2009

A panel of experts and citizens convened to review recent studies on the link between DDT and human health expressed concern that the current practice of spraying the pesticide indoors to fight malaria is leading to unprecedented ...

Household chemicals may be linked to infertility

Jan 30, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health have found the first evidence that perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs — chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, ...

Nations set new tourism limits for Antarctica

Apr 19, 2009

(AP) -- Countries with interests in Antarctica have endorsed U.S.-proposed mandatory limits on Antarctic tourism that aim to protect the continent's fragile environment, officials said Friday.

Recommended for you

Shell files new plan to drill in Arctic

12 hours ago

Royal Dutch Shell has submitted a new plan for drilling in the Arctic offshore Alaska, more than one year after halting its program following several embarrassing mishaps.

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

13 hours ago

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

GrayMouser
5 / 5 (2) May 09, 2009
But the U.N. environmental and health agencies said this week that there are good alternatives to combat malaria.

They just don't work worth a darn which is why there are so many deaths from malaria and why they allowed it to finally be used again.

A second question, if the treaty is modified, does the US Senate have to ratify it again?
Chromodynamix
5 / 5 (3) May 10, 2009
In the meantime..
Ginger, Turmeric, Neem Declared "Hazardous" in Thailand After Chemical Companies Try to Protect Pesticide Profits
4/7/2009 - (NaturalNews) The government of Thailand has classified 13 plants - traditionally used as herbal medicines and natural pesticides - as "hazardous substances," causing outrage among farmers and advocates of traditional medicine.
http://www.natura...and.html
physpuppy
not rated yet May 10, 2009
Chromodynamix, interesting article, here is another source:







http://www.bangko...-listing







the announcement requires growers, manufacturers, importers and exporters of pesticides, herbicides and plant disease control substances made from the 13 herbal plants to follow safety and quality control regulations issued by the committee.......Farmers and producers of the organic substances might have to pay more for registration, packaging and testing as required by the law, ......Multinational chemical companies are expected to benefit once production and commercialisation of the alternative substances is curbed.








While it might be true that this classification is due to an implied conspiracy by chemical companies, and protest against it is because the farmers don't want to pay more for the regulations which is supposed to enhance safety, read the first comment (signed Professor L A Damani) after the Bangkokpost's article for an interesting, and more encompassing perspective on the action.







Short excerpt from the comment:



Of course those herbs that have long been used in food are safe. However, preparation of concentrated extracts of these herbs and their use for spraying onto plants is an entirely different proposition, since that may lead to lung (inhalational) and skin (dermal) exposure of plant derived chemicals at high concentrations to the user. ..........The misunderstanding that has caused all the rage is primarily the fault of the relevant ministries for not clearly explaining the reasoning behind the proposed new regulations through consultative meetings with those affected by these proposed rule change prior to their introduction.








Jimster
5 / 5 (1) May 10, 2009
A useful report rather than some sensationalist crapola would actually list the names of the chemicals that are so worrisome. The "reporter" should not be so arrogant to think that most of the readers are as clueless as they are with respect to "those chemical-molecule thingies". IDIOT!!
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (1) May 13, 2009
Chromodynamix, interesting article, here is another source:
http://www.bangko...-listing
the announcement requires growers, manufacturers, importers and exporters of pesticides, herbicides and plant disease control substances made from the 13 herbal plants to follow safety and quality control regulations issued by the committee.......Farmers and producers of the organic substances might have to pay more for registration, packaging and testing as required by the law, ......Multinational chemical companies are expected to benefit once production and commercialisation of the alternative substances is curbed.

While it might be true that this classification is due to an implied conspiracy by chemical companies, and protest against it is because the farmers don't want to pay more for the regulations which is supposed to enhance safety, read the first comment (signed Professor L A Damani) after the Bangkokpost's article for an interesting, and more encompassing perspective on the action.

Short excerpt from the comment:
Of course those herbs that have long been used in food are safe. However, preparation of concentrated extracts of these herbs and their use for spraying onto plants is an entirely different proposition, since that may lead to lung (inhalational) and skin (dermal) exposure of plant derived chemicals at high concentrations to the user. ..........The misunderstanding that has caused all the rage is primarily the fault of the relevant ministries for not clearly explaining the reasoning behind the proposed new regulations through consultative meetings with those affected by these proposed rule change prior to their introduction.

The protests against it are just as likely to be spurred by those companies making money on these alternatives.
The whole 'alternatives' industry thrives on being assumed to be healthy until proven beyond any doubt to be unsafe.
Kind of the opposite of other food and drug industries.