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A Toxics-Free Future

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Highlights Front Roll

IPEN POs Work to End the Use of Lead in Paint
New Report on the Hazards of Plastic Waste Management
New Report on Aquatic Pollutants in Oceans and Fisheries
New Report on Women, Chemicals and the Sustainable Development Goals
Plastics, EDCs & Health Report Links Chemical Additives and Health Effects
Understanding the Connection between COVID-19 and Chemicals
IPEN POs Step Up Campaign for Global Phase-Out of Lead Paints in time for the 9th International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Forty-eight IPEN Participating Organizations (POs) from 35 countries will take part in the upcoming International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) on 24-30 October 2021. With the theme “Working Together for a World Without Lead Paint,” various activities will be carried out to emphasize the need to accelerate progress toward the global phase-out of lead-containing paints through regulatory and legal measures. Additionally, IPEN will organize a webinar on “Catalyzing the Global Phase-Out of Lead Paints,” which will discuss how listing lead pigments in the Rotterdam Convention will advance global lead paint elimination; help countries adopt and enforce lead paint control regulations; and make exporting countries assume major responsibilities for the control of lead pigments and the lead paints that contain them.

Now on its ninth year, the week of action aims to raise awareness about the health effects of lead exposure; highlight the efforts of countries and partners to prevent lead exposure, particularly in children; and to urge further action to eliminate lead paint through regulatory action at country level. The ILPPW, which counts on the participation of IPEN and many of its POs from low- and middle- income countries, is an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, which is jointly led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Gothenburg, Sweden A new educational series will focus on the specific risks women face when exposed to toxic chemicals. The goal of the free, online course is to educate the public at large and to build a broad, woman-led leadership for addressing issues related to toxic chemical exposure. The first in the nine-part series will be available beginning 18 October 2021 and can be accessed at https://ipen.teachable.com.

Sara Brosché, author of Women, Chemicals, and the SDGs, released in 2021, said: “Women are disproportionally impacted by exposure to chemicals and wastes, but they are under-represented when decisions about chemical use and disposal are being made. At the same time, it is women who often become the key agents for change in their communities. In developing this educational program, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) hopes to encourage women to play a greater role in deciding when and how toxic chemicals are manufactured, used, and disposed of – at the community level as well as at national and international levels.”

IPEN Co-Chair outlines steps for addressing SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production)

Asked "What are the priorities for achieving the SDGs* within the context of the sustainable consumption and production SDG?" at the 8 July 2021 Berlin Forum on Chemical Sustainability: Ambition and Action towards 2030 Stakeholder Dialog, IPEN Co-Chair Dr. Tadesse Amera focused on four topics:

  1. eliminating the international double-standard,
  2. creating a better financial structure,
  3. recognizing the dangers of chemical additives in plastics, and
  4. the important contributions of youth to a better future.

Watch the video

Marcos Orellana, UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights

The right to science plays an essential role in both public communications regarding toxics and the science-policy interface

Geneva, CH Following the release of the Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, Professor Marcos A. Orellana’s report, “Right to science in the context of toxic substances” at the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) issued the following statements: 

Photo by Gage Skidmore

This article originally appeared in The Hill on 09/17/21

When President Biden took office, he pledged to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals now poisoning communities across the United States. If he is serious about that promise, then his administration must align its foreign policies with its domestic commitments when it participates in the next meeting of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an international treaty that prohibits dangerous pollutants that persist in the environment.

As countries are prepping for a consequential meeting early next year, the United States is behaving as the obstructionist in the room. With Biden’s nominee for the head of EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) on the cusp of Senate approval, the EPA is well-positioned to act now and reverse this dangerous pattern of obstructionism.

More than 180 nations — but not the United States — are parties to the Stockholm Convention. Instead, the United States is an “observer.” While the United States is not a party and is not bound to the convention’s restrictions, our government has a long history of obstructing the convention’s efforts to ban some of the most dangerous toxic chemicals.

While governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have individually taken action to address incidents of illegal waste shipments from affluent and more developed countries, the 10-member bloc has yet to unify and boost up efforts to protect the region from the drawbacks and hazards of the global waste trade.

Released in time for the commemoration of the ASEAN Month, the report titled “Waste Trade in Southeast Asia: Legal Justifications for Regional Action” notes the lack of a common and regional response to the waste trade issue despite headline-grabbing dumping controversies that hit Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand in recent years.

Published by the environmental health and justice group EcoWaste Coalition with the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), the report finds the current legal and policy responses inadequate to stop the entry of illegal waste, and more importantly, insufficient to protect the health of both people and the environment.

Watch now: English | español (Spanish)

Chemicals in plastics have a variety of health consequences, and none more startling than the potential impacts on human fertility. In the same way that plastic additives and fire-retardant chemicals can disrupt endocrine function in kidneys or the pancreas — even at very low doses — they can have effects on ovaries and testes and the entire reproductive system. Studies show that fertiility has decreased over the past few decades, and work by researchers has linked some of these declines with the effects of ubiquitous toxic chemicals that have gone unregulated or that have persisted in the environment.

In July 2021, IPEN and Commonweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center hosted a webinar with two leaders in this research, Dr. Shanna Swan, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and Dr. Pete Myers, Founder and Chief Scientist at Environmental Health Sciences. Dr. Swan's recent book "Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race" delves into the causes and issues surrounding this disturbing trend. In the webinar, she reviewed the findings from her book and outlined the issues we face in dealing with harms to human health. In his presentation, Dr. Myers detailed many of the issues faced in terms of threats to fertility, but also to other human and wildlife disease, such as the faulty regulatory thresholds currently in use by governments, which fail to account for non-monotonic effects at very low doses often seen with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the specific mechanisms of chemicals within cells, and the trans-generational impacts rarely discussed in popular media, brought about by epigenetic effects of chemicals and their metabolic by-products.

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