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A Toxics-Free Future

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Highlights Front Roll

New Video: Plastics Poisoning Our Health
Promoting Stronger Protections on Chemicals at BRS COP
How the UNEA Plastics Resolutions Relates to Chemicals and Health
Plastic Poisons the Circular Economy
Plastic Waste Fuels: policy spreads toxic trade across Asia
Shipping Disaster Study Shows Need for Stricter Controls
Plastics, EDCs & Health Report Links Chemical Additives and Health Effects
Two young kids holding yellow signs reading "Ban Lead Paints"

In an article for Asia Pacific Coatings Journal (APCJ), the leading trade magazine for the coatings industry in Asia, IPEN Senior Adviser Jack Weinberg and Jeiel Guarino, IPEN Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner describe the need for and effects of stricter global rules to end the trade in lead chromates, the pigments used in lead paint.

Lead paints were banned in many wealthy countries decades ago, but they are still widely used in many countries. The WHO says that lead paint continues to be one of the largest sources of domestic exposure to lead in children, and doctors and scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

A study published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research co-authored by IPEN co-chair Pamela Miller with a group of scientists, colleagues from Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), and Indigenous community leaders found that highly toxic chemicals have accumulated in the bodies of seals, whales, and reindeer of the northern Bering Sea, contaminating vital food sources of Arctic Indigenous people.

The researchers coordinated with Indigenous hunters to collect tissue samples from traditionally harvested animals and found that toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) that were phased out in the U.S. in 2004 were frequently detected in all samples. The “forever chemicals” PFAS, substances linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and other health conditions, were also found in some samples. The study concluded that “…PBDEs are present in tissues of traditional food animals… and consumption of these animals likely contributes to exposure among Arctic Indigenous Peoples.”

The IPEN team this week will participate in the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, to highlight the threats to oceans from toxic chemicals, including chemicals in plastics that pose threats to human health and marine life.

Joint press release of Oeko-Institut, PAN-Ethiopia, Centre for Sustainable Cycles, Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action and SRADev

Addis Abeba/Freiburg/Koforidua/Lagos/Mombasa The export of used lithium-ion batteries for second-life applications from Europe to Africa must follow clear rules and be better controlled. This is what Researchers and environmentalists from Oeko-Institut (Germany), PAN- Ethiopia (Ethiopia), the Centre for Sustainable Cycles (Ghana), the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action (Kenya), and SRADev (Nigeria) call for.

Second-life for Lithium-ion batteries: In Africa or Europe?

In view of the currently rapidly growing number of used batteries from electric vehicles, buses and e-scooters, the question of proper end-of-life management is becoming more and more urgent. Although recycling capacities are being built up in the EU, the logistics and recycling processes are usually associated with considerable costs.

"There is currently a trend to 'donate' used batteries to other countries," says battery researcher Dr Johannes Betz of the Oeko-Institut. Many manufacturers argue that used batteries can still be used – for example in solar projects in Africa. More and more projects and press releases are praising this so-called repurposing approach as a solution. "Repurposing of used Li-ion batteries can certainly yield many environmental benefits”, says Betz. "But it is hard to understand why the focus is on shipping old batteries to low- and middle- income countries, given the great need for electricity storage in Germany and the EU”.

PFAS compound PFHxS listed for global ban with no exemptions; chemical recycling blocked over hazardous waste concerns; controls adopted on e-waste exports; and a proposal for burning PFAS in cement kilns stymied

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Geneva, Switzerland Several notable decisions were adopted at the closing of two weeks of negotiations of the Joint Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions on hazardous chemical management.

IPEN Co-chair Pamela Miller reflected on the meeting, saying that “IPEN brings civil society to these meetings to bear witness for the billions of people around the world who could not be here, but whose health, well-being, and human rights depend on the decisions that are being made.” She continued, “These Conventions were adopted to protect vulnerable communities of women, children, workers and Indigenous communities. Still, governments and their powerful industry representatives put their own economic and trade interests before the health and well-being of the global environment and its inhabitants.”

Important Measures Taken to Control the Export of E-Waste

Massive amounts of electronic waste are today exported to developing countries and countries in transition. The Parties to the Basel Convent took a significant step during the COP towards controlling this highly polluting practice by listing e-waste under the convention, mandating a Prior Informed Consent procedure for transboundary movement of this type of waste.

Dr. Tadesse Amera, IPEN Co-chair commented “The export of electronic waste on developing countries leads to extensive pollution of the environment, poisoning of the food of local communities and severe health impacts. We welcome this decision to control all e-waste exports. However, we are also concerned about the remaining loophole for exporting e-waste under the guise of repair. We urge governments to restrict all export of used electronics under the Basel Convention”.

Action on Toxic PFAS “Forever Chemicals”

The toxic PFAS chemical PFHxS, together with its about 80 related substances, was listed under the Stockholm Convention for global elimination, with no exempted uses. These “forever chemicals” are used e.g. in stain-resistant fabrics, fire-fighting foams, food packaging, and as a surfactant in industrial processes.

Also, PFOA, another chemical in the PFAS family that was listed for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention in 2019 with a range of exemptions, was now adopted for listing under the Rotterdam Convention that controls transboundary movement of hazardous chemicals.

Geneva, Switzerland IPEN members from around the world are gathering in Geneva, Switzerland from June 6 to 17 at the meetings of the global Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions. IPEN is an official observer group at the meetings, with a role of educating delegates and contributing to the Convention talks to promote the need for stronger protections for our health and the environment. The talks will cover a wide range of issues, from toxic chemicals in plastics to the need for stronger protections from hazardous wastes.

Read more from the BRS COP 2022

Without consideration of the public and experts from the most affected and vulnerable regions, a global Plastics Treaty cannot meaningfully resolve the crisis.

This op-ed appeared 30 May 2022 in Environmental Health News

In March 2022, 175 countries came together in an agreement to begin negotiations on a global treaty to address the plastic crisis.

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