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A Toxics-Free Future

IPEN Participating Organization ESDO releases 2017 Newsletter

ESDO Proceeded with Successful and New Interventions

In this quarter, ESDO kicked of their first intervention on combating the pollution threat from microplastic litter. As an initiation of this project ESDO team convened an advisory committee involving renowned professors, researchers and ex government employees and conducted a preliminary meeting  with a view to preparing a project outline and work accordingly. ESDO team organized  a successful project inception workshop to inform and introduce this issue publicly. here was a vast gathering of policy makers, teachers, researchers, journalists at the workshop. The event got a huge media coverage which helped to spread the massage among mass people.

Along with this ESDO has made great advancement in other issues. Dr. Shahriar Hossain, Secretary General of ESDO made  successful participation in Asia Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment. The Minamata Convention, the world's first legally binding global agreement became International law. Siddika Sultana, Executive Director of ESDO attended International Meeting on Women Scientists And Engineers  in Yokohama, Japan. Dr. Shahriar Hossain participated at the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) in Geneva, Switzerland. Worldwide organizations working on mercury convention took part in the meeting. Elite paint and chemical industries achieved Lead Safe Paint certification, which is one the success of ESDO 's movement against leaded paint in Bangladesh. Women scientists and researchers of ESDO participated in young women scientist camp and smart sister's workshop in conjuction with BIEN 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. 

Through out this quarter, ESDO team kept updated their  social media about all of the event and activities that was organized with enthusiasm and commitment for toxic free Bangladesh and bound.

ESDO Launches Electronic Poster on International Plastic Bag Free Day, 3 July, 2017

Dhaka, 3 July 2017: The International Plastic Bag Free Day  is observed every year on July 3 to highlight the need to phase-out plastic bags and to promote organic reusable bags. The day signifies the ability for the world to come together and create an environment that is plastic free and educating individuals about current alternatives to plastics and other wastes.

This day gives us an opportunity to remind ourselves, and others, that every action we take, and every bag we dispose of, affects the lives of everyone in the world for generations to come. So, we should work hand in hand to phase out plastic bags from our environment.

Involvement of the Health Sector in the Implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Bangkok 3 July 2017: Dr. Shahriar Hossain participated in a workshop on ‘Health Sector Involvement in the Implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury’ which was organized by World Health Organization (WHO) at the Regional office for South-East Asia at United Nations Convention Center, Bangkok in the first week of July, 2017. plast

Participation in International Meeting on Women Scientists And Engineers

Yokohama,  14-15 July 2017: Siddika Sultana, Executive Director of ESDO, participated in the INWES APNN Meeting, 2017 as an APNN representative of Bangladesh. The meeting was hosted by JNWES (Japanese Network of Women Engineers and Scientists, Chair, Kayako Sugahara) and held in Yokohama on July 14-15, in conjunction with GWST (Global Women in Science and Technology). About 70 attendances from 11 countries participated the INWES APNN meeting on July 14. At AGM, the 3rd chair organization, TWiST (Chia Li Wu, president) started its term (2017-2020) and the 8th meeting, 2018 INWES APNN Meeting, was announced to be held at Hanoi, Vietnam, hosted by VAFIW. GWST held on July 15 was a great successful event, and about 500 people including professional mentors and INWES members, students (high school, college and graduate school), and people from major companies have mentoring and discussion session, which were well prepared for last two years.

Participation in Global Anti-plastic Movement in Bali, Indonesia

Bali, 15 August 2017: Dr. Shahriar Hossain joined the meeting of 90+ changemakers from the #breakfreefromplastic movement in Bali, Indonesia. The objective of this meeting was to strategize ways to cut plastic waste from our lives.

World’s First Health & Environment Convention on Mercury Becomes International Law Today

Geneva, 16 August 2017: The Minamata Convention, the world’s first legally binding global agreement to reduce mercury pollution, becomes International law on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. In a joint press statement ESDO and Zero Mercury welcomes the new protocol.

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere,” said Dr.Shahriar Hossain, Secretary General of Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO. In a press statement both expert express their concern on the convention implementation and said, “Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention will enter into force on August 16 2017. “We are now on the right track line.” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co-ordinator. “Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce exposure risks worldwide. 

Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is “to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness. The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

New Initiation on Mercury Phase Out from Skin-lightening Products

Dhaka, 22 August 2017: ESDO has been conducting research, policy advocacy and awareness raising campaign to phase-out mercury from products since long. In continuation of this, ESDO got an opportunity to work with Eco-Peace Leadership Centre (EPLC) on a new project entitled, Reduction of Demand of Mercury in Mercury Containing Products: Skin Lightening Creams in Bangladesh.

As Bangladesh is a signatory of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, phasing out of use of mercury in different products will advance Bangladesh accordingly. Focusing the health and environmental impacts of mercury in skin whitening/lightening creams and raising awareness about the issue will supplement the existing project which focuses mercury containing products. The activities of this project will be co-ordinated and supervised by Siddika Sultana, Executive Director of ESDO. Sayda Mehrabin Shejuti, Program Associate of ESDO got selected as the fellow of this program.

The EPLC leadership program is provided for those leaders who wish to get solution for facing environmental problem in their region by supporting their hands-on activities or project through the on/off learning process. They are providing the opportunity to learn state-of-art technology and information through the programme and sharing the experience of other CSOs. The leadership program is contributing the improvement of environmental conditions in Asia Pacific region with the authentic support from UNEP and Eco-Peace Leadership Center. Korea will share its precious experience with other leaders in AP regions to solve the various environmental disasters and problems.

Elite Paints is the First Paint Company of Bangladesh to Receive the Lead Safe Paint ® Certification

Dhaka, 29 August 2017: Elite Paint and Chemical Industries, as the first paint company of Bangladesh has got the honor to achieve Lead Safe Paint® certification.

The paint company is certified by a leading third-party certifier SCS Global Services (SCS). The announcement has been made through a press briefing organized by Elite Paint and Chemical Industries at Begum Sufia Kamal Public Library, Dhaka on 29 August, 2017. Chairperson and Executive Director of ESDO, onbehalf of SCS Global Services handed over this award to Elite Paint today.

The certification program, established in 2015 by the international non-profit IPEN, was created to let customers know that the paints they are purchasing contains less than a total concentration of 90 parts per million (ppm) lead – the strictest regulatory standard for lead content in paint established by any government anywhere in the world.

Paints from Elite Paint were certified by leading third-party certifier SCS Global Services (SCS), the program’s exclusive certification body in Bangladesh. SCS’ independent analysis confirmed that paint brands from the company contained less than a total of 90 ppm lead. As a result, Elite Paint is licensed to use the Lead Safe Paint® certification mark on their paint can labels and other promotional materials. Using this mark will provide consumers with confidence that these paints will protect their families from the hazard of lead exposure.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "lead paint is one of the largest sources of exposure to lead in children." Lead exposure during early childhood years has been linked to an increased likelihood of impaired cognition and executive function, impulsiveness, aggression and delinquent behavior. Brain damage caused by chronic, low-level exposure to lead is irreversible and untreatable, so reducing lead exposure is an important worldwide health issue.

Lead Safe Paint® is an independent, third party certification program that verifies paints contain less than 90 parts per million (ppm) total lead (dry weight)—the strictest mandatory regulatory standard for lead content in paint established in e.g., the United States, the Philippines, Nepal, and India. A 90-ppm standard is achievable when a manufacturer avoids the use of lead pigments and driers in its products and when reasonable care is given to avoid the use of ingredients that are contaminated or falsely labeled. More information is available

BIEN 2017 Conference and Smart Sister's Workshop in Seoul, South Korea 

Seoul, 31 August-2 September 2017: Afrida Nazibah, Program Associate of ESDO and Raisa Sultana, the Research Assistant of ESDO  attended the BIEN 2017 (International Conference of Women Scientist and Engineers 2017), under the theme of “YES, we are the future of Asia!” in Seoul, South Korea from August 31- September 2. The event was hosted by the association of Korean Woman Scientists and Engineers (KWSE). The association allows the next generation of women scientists and engineers in the Asia- Pacific region to enhance the global competitiveness with international cooperation while providing opportunities for quality global networking.

The main purpose of the program was to create a common platform for establishing networks and expand mutually-beneficial exchange among Korean, foreign resident, and Asia-Pacific women scientists and engineers. Meanwhile, to provide opportunities for Korean female science and engineering majors to enhance global capability and form networks.

The program is designed with the vision of offering a very dynamic and stimulating array of scientific programs. Experts and participants from all over the world e.g. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Mongolia, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Botswana, Tanzania, Malaysia, Srilanka, Brazil, United States of America etc. gathered together to discuss the latest developments and exchange information on the cutting- edge techniques emerging in the field of Bio, Information, Environment/Energy/Earth, Nano, and Space technology. The programs included academic plenary session of invited lectures, oral and poster presentation, group mentoring on research fields and youth leadership. Global issue discussion was held to introduce top emerging technologies in the world in recent times. At the same time, APNN country exhibition and traditional costume presentation took place by the participants to represent the culture, people, food of participant country and a short cultural tour to Gyeongbokgung palace.

Emergence of political commitment was stated in the Asia Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment

Bangkok, 5 September 2017: Prudent statements in line with policy perspectives towards a resource efficient Asia Pacific Region were made today in the first day of a 4 day long “Asia Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment” at UNCC, Bangkok.
Dr. Shahriar Hossain, the Secretary General of Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO of Bangladesh stated the major challenges and the emerging need as way forward towards the resource efficient Bangladesh according to the agenda items of the summit. The summit is jointly organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Environment which started yesterday on 5 September and will continue till 8 September, 2017.

Dr. Shahriar said, ‘On behalf of Environment and Social Development Organization-ESDO, Bangladesh I would like to express my sincere thanks and support to ESCAP document ‘Policy perspectives towards a resource-efficient Asia Pacific region.’’

‘In our region, we have resource to tackle the SDGs; but resource management is the biggest challenge particularly on natural resources. We believe it is high time to protect our forest, land and water bodies’, he emphasized.

Dr. Shahriar also added that, ‘As this document described that, ‘’sustainable and efficient management of natural resources is a frequent and crucial aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other global agendas, the present document provides an updated review of trends, challenges and opportunities emerging from the use of natural resources in the region in recent years.

He stated, ‘‘Taking this is an explanation, we believe collective national and regional approach is high demanding; a political commitment is an emerging need; real and practical participation of the grassroots people, including indigenes and marginalize group with multi stakeholders needed.’’

‘‘We strongly believe, regional cooperation is the key and coordination between govt. academia, CSOs will help to reduce information gaps, and this cooperation will foster more resource efficient approach in Asia Pacific region’’, Dr. Shahriar concluded.

Emergence of political commitment was stated in the Asia Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment

Bangkok, 4-5 September 2017: Dr. Shahriar Hossain along with Environment ministers and high-level officials from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific have committed to move towards a clean and green Asia-Pacific, one that is more resource efficient and pollution free at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment in Bangkok. This will advance global agendas like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Assembly resolutions and other global commitments.

The Summit culminated in a call for collaborative action to ensure that environment and development is approached in an integrated way, from promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, urban planning and spatial development, to fostering sustainable agriculture practices and advancing the green economy to reduce waste and pollution.

Participants at the Summit, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Environment also highlighted the urgency of addressing environmental health risks associated with pollution, promoting resource efficiency measures and practices, and protecting natural capital and ecosystem integrity including wildlife, biodiversity and oceans.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said, “This is an important cornerstone of regional collaboration on sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific. It underpins the agreement already reached in the regional roadmap for sustainable development and provides us with the vision of our member States on future cooperation.”

“There is a clear resolve to bring about a pollution-free Asia Pacific. Political leadership, private sector engagement and citizen action is essential to ensure that people’s basic needs like access to healthcare, water and proper sanitation are met. At the same time, it is imperative that we step up efforts to reduce plastic waste and marine litter,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. 

Other issues addressed at the periphery of the Summit include gender and environment, oceans governance, climate geoengineering, investments in water infrastructure and the Astana Green Bridge Initiative.

A Ban on microplastics specially microbeads urged by experts, academicians, environment activists

Dhaka, 16 September 2017: A huge gathering of health and environmental experts, beauty experts and  concerned stakeholders urged the ban of microplastic, especially microbeads in an inception workshop under the theme of “Combating the pollution threat from microplastic litter to save marine health in the Bay of Bengal” to make people aware about the emerging pollution threat from microplastic. The event was organized by ESDO at Four Seasons Restaurant, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

The session was chaired by Syed Marghub Murshed, Former Secretary, People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Chairperson of ESDO. The guest of honor was Md. Ziaul Haque, Director (AQM), Department of Environment (DoE) and the panelists were Mahmood Hasan Khan, Former Director, DoE;  Dr. Abu Jafar Mahmood, Rtd. Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Dhaka; and Dr. Md. Abul Hashem, Dept. of Chemistry, Jahangirnagar University.

Plastic pollution is a global concern whereas microbeads used in personal care products are one of the largest contributors to this plastic trash. In Bangladesh, microplastics pollution is a new phenomenon and manufacturers and consumers are not aware of the negative impact of microplastic and the microbeads. ESDO is going to kick off the project with an aim to reduce or eliminate use of microplastics in Bangladesh.

According to the study findings of ESDO, three major cities of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet city dwellers release a huge quantity of microbeads every month. 6628.46 billions of microbeads from Dhaka, 1087.18 billion of microbeads from Chittagong and 212.38 billion of microbeads from Sylhet city are dumped in to the water bodies and wetland. The huge microbeads content will highly cost the environment and human health by causing heart disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, obesity in human body, small tears in skin leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and by accumulating toxic contaminants – persistent organic pollutants.

Experts in the meeting said, Mirobeads are plastic particles less than 1 mm in size that can be spherical or irregular in shape and produced in a multitude of colors. The types of plastic most commonly used as microbeads are: polyethylene (PE), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP).Sewage treatment plants are not equipped to remove particles that are

small. Fish can confuse them as eggs or zooplankton and accidentally ingest them, which ultimately end up in human bodies. Microbeads being small in size have a large surface area by volume. As a result, they accumulate toxic contaminants. Consumption of these toxic chemicals may cause liver toxicity and disrupt the endocrine system. Microbeads in beauty products and toothpaste can be harmful to skin and teeth accordingly.

Secretary General of ESDO and ecosystem expert Dr. Shahriar Hossain informed that the marine species are unable to distinguish between food and microplastics and therefore indiscriminately feed on microbeads. These sea foods are regularly consumed by humans. This is the way microbeads will start accumulating in the food chain, transferring from species to species, with consequences ultimately to humans. Dr. Shahriar said, toxic chemicals added to plastic during the manufacturing process (such as plasticizers and flame retardants) leach out of plastic in the small to large water bodies, wetlands and the marine environment and poses serious threats to marine fauna.

Amongst other, Siddika Sultana, Executive Director, ESDO, were there to share her opinion about the importance of the regulation to limit the content of microbeads in our daily personal care products. 

ESDO urge the government of Bangladesh and the people to come forward and raise the voice to “ban microbeads”. They stressed for mass public awareness, immediate ban of microbeads   containing products, stop production, sale and import of microbeads containing products and legislation to ban the use of microplastic and microbeads in Bangladesh.

Celebrate “World Environmental Health Day” by Making Dental Amalgam History!

Geneva, 26 September 2017: The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry is celebrating World Environmental Health Day by urging the nations party to the Minamata Convention on Mercury to make dental amalgam history!   It complements the theme of the parties to Minamata, whose theme is “Make mercury history.”

At the first conference of the parties (COP1), the World Alliance launched its new “Make Dental Amalgam History” campaign, a step-by-step plan to phase out the use of dental amalgam.

In its opening statement, presented by president Charlie Brown of the United States, the World Alliance specifically called on nations to take the first step:

“When you return to your home nations, please do as the European Union as done: phase out amalgam for children now.  For one simple reason:  The children of your nation are equally important to the children of Europe.”

Dominique Bally of Cote d’Ivoire, the World Alliance’s vice president for Africa, reports that “The African region is ready to end amalgam use in children, but developed countries continue to dump amalgam into our region.  Sending amalgam for use in African children (and others vulnerable population) is not charity – it’s an environmental health disaster.”

As Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall of the United Kingdom, the World Alliance’s chief dental advisor explains, “There is just no reason to use amalgam in children’s milk teeth – these teeth are less complex, they don’t last long, and there are so many mercury-free fillings available for them.”

Maria Carcamo of Uruguay, the World Alliance’s vice president for Latin America, adds “No child should be subjected to an utterly unnecessary dose of mercury exposure from amalgam.”

“Many children in developed countries are being protected from amalgam,” says Dr. Shahriar Hossain of Bangladesh, the World Alliance’s executive vice president.  “Now it is time to protect all children from the dental industry’s mercury, including children in developing countries, children in low-income areas of developed countries, and indigenous peoples’ children.”

Dental amalgam, a tooth filling material that is 50% mercury, accounts for 21% of global mercury consumption. Much of this dental mercury eventually enters the environment via many unsound pathways, polluting (1) air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, and sludge incineration; (2) water via dental clinic releases and human waste; and (3) soil via landfills, burials, and fertilizer.  As a result, many children around the world are exposed to a double dose of amalgam’s mercury: first when it is implanted in their teeth and a second time when it contaminates their environment.