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IPEN

A Toxics-Free Future

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Czech Republic

The Czech environmental group Arnika is ringing alarm bells. According to the results of a recent study it conducted, some children’s toys and grooming accessories, such as hair brushes, sold in the EU contain toxic substances. Arnika’s Karolína Brabcová says this is an unfortunate side product of the drive to promote plastics recycling.

Listen on Czech Radio: http://www.radio.cz/en/section/panorama/the-downside-of-plastics-recycli...

How to deal with toxic pollution: That was the main theme of the IPEN Central and Eastern Europe Regional Meeting that took place in Prague in October, 2017. The three-day conference of regional non-governmental organizations discussed a common future approach for Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting included an excursion to Spolana – a chlorine factory which is the biggest contemporary polluter of the Czech Republic. This trip showed how difficult, though not impossible, it may be to resolve historical environmental burdens.

Right in the historical centre of the Czech capital, environmental activists shared their experience regarding crucial issues of soil, water and air contamination from toxic waste. The conference brought together almost 30 participants representing fifteen European countries. The main goal of the meeting was to enhance the cooperation of environmental NGOs in the region, based on IPEN’s 2020 Global Plan and strategy. Maria Ekström Johansson, IPEN’s Operations and Finance Director, presented this strategy on the first day.

IPEN Participating Organization Arnika, based in the Czech Republic, recently found concentrations of toxic substances in several samples of commonly available summer shoes and drinking glasses. Chemical analysis was commissioned of footwear and printed glasses, and DEHP and DiBP, which are phthalates especially hazardous for human hormonal and reproductive systems, were found in the shoes, as well as lead. Children's shoes specifically were tested, because children are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of phthalates and heavy metals.

The Arnika Association examined hundreds of pieces of printed china dishes, within the framework of its campaign Let's Eat Toxics Free. A vast majority of them, including goods for children, contained high lead concentration in the colour printing. A very alarming fact is that concentrations were often found in the order of tens of thousands ppm (parts per million) of lead.

Impact of heavy metals from Balkan power plants on inhabitants and the environment

This project by Arnika Association, entitled 'Impact of heavy metals from Balkan power plants on inhabitants and the environment', focuses on the presentation and discussion of data related to contamination by heavy metals at selected locations in the Balkans. Sampling teams conducted monitoring in the field to obtain data about the impacts of coal fired power plants from emissions and releases (including ash ponds and dumps). The sampled sites were located in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.

Mercury in the Chemical Industry – a Toxic Legacy in the CEE Region

This report summarises a comprehensive project report by NGO Arnika Association that can be accessed at http://english.arnika.org/. The project investigates the status of mercury pollution in and around industrial facilities in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region that are intentionally using mercury in their manufacturing processes (such as chlor-alkali plants).

Waste Incineration Residues, a Significant Source of POPs in the Czech Republic

In an effort to create public awareness about illegal waste incineration in the Czech Republic as well as the larger issue of waste incineration residues in general, Arnika conducted several activities. The first involved sampling for PCB, dioxins, and PAH residues at a waste site and making the results public through mass media. Subsequently, a workshop on POPs wastes and waste incineration was organized for Czech NGOs, with 22 participants. A joint declaration from the workshop was created, as well as the formation of a new network.

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