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IPEN

A Toxics-Free Future

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Czech Republic

Calls for Identification and monitoring of source sites

(Prague, Czech Republic) - The large group of perfluorinated chemicals, collectively known as PFAS and often called "Forever Chemicals" because they are not easily broken down, have been found nearly everywhere researchers have looked for them — but particularly in food, water supplies, and soils. Czech Republic NGO Arnika recently studied sources in and around Prague, and found PFAS, its related chemicals, and additionally brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in nearly every sample. The study, Forever Chemicals Round and Round, made clear that identifying and continually monitoring PFAS and BFR sources is vital for community health and environmental sustainability.

Although regulation of these chemicals is increasing, the categories of perfluorinated and brominated chemicals are large. So as one chemical is identified and listed for restriction, another is adopted for use, all without understanding the underlying health effects. Ironically, many of these substances have known, safe alternatives. In response to studies showing PFAS in blood samples of firefighters, airports have been moving to safer fire-fighting foams, replacing fluorinated forms, which constitute roughly one-third of known PFAS contamination and which have been found in water ways near airports, including in Arnika's recent study.

“Perfluorinated substances and brominated flame retardants are not essential for the majority of applications and there are already safer alternatives on the market today. Therefore, their production should stop immediately. We call on both manufacturers and legislators to restrict the use of these toxic substances for all non-essential purposes. The deterioration in the quality of drinking water and the global environmental contamination caused by PFAS are irreversible,” says Jitka Strakova from Arnika.

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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