Friday, August 27, 2010

Pollution: Toxic chemicals convention takes effect with more pollutants included

UN - Nine toxic chemicals have been added to an international convention on organic substances that persistently pollute the environment and harm human health, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today as the updated agreement entered into force.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants identifies the bio-accumulative and toxic chemicals found in some common consumer products. They are distributed around the globe and are known to be accumulating in human and animal organisms, endangering the health and safety of humans and the environment.

“The inclusion of these nine POPs [Persistent Organic Pollutants] under the Stockholm Convention demonstrates that Governments around the world are committed to reducing and eventually eliminating such chemicals throughout the global community, in order to boost public health, contribute to sustainable development and deliver wider Green Economy gains,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP’s Executive Director. UNEP administers the Stockholm Convention.

The amendments to list additional POPs in the convention were adopted by the Conference of the Parties of the Convention at its fourth meeting in May last year.

“By extending for the first time the scope of coverage of the Stockholm Convention, governments have strengthened efforts to protect human health and raise chemicals issues to the top of the global agenda,” said Donald Cooper, Executive Secretary to the Stockholm Convention.

Many of the nine chemicals banned or being phased out under the new amendments are still widely used today as pesticides, flame retardants and in a number of other commercial uses.

To mark the entry into force of the amendments, the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention participated in the launch of the Sea Dragon, a scientific monitoring vessel, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Sea Dragon will set sail today for a half-year-long voyage to document the extent of drifting plastic pollution and monitor deepwater fish for their POP levels in the South Atlantic Ocean.