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A Toxics-Free Future

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Highlights Front Roll

New Report: The Arctic’s Plastic Crisis
Plastics Treaty INC-4
New Report: Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Threats to Human Health
6th United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-6)
Chemical Recycling: A Dangerous Deception
See StopPoisonPlastic.org - our website on toxic plastics
Video: Plastics Poisoning Our Health
Environmental and health advocates call for strong conflict-of-interest policies, open access, and transparency in global policy deliberations

Geneva, Switzerland-Ahead of the third open-ended working group (OEWG) meeting of a UN Environment Assembly process to develop a Science-Policy Panel for informing global policy development around chemicals, waste, and the prevention of pollution in order to protect human health, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and IPEN are calling for protections in the process against undue influence by the chemicals, fossil fuels, plastics, and other industries with vested interests. The groups warn that these industries have long histories of manipulating science and using deceptive tactics to derail and delay regulations, favoring their profits over public health. 

The OEWG this 17-21 June in Geneva will consider vital elements around the industry’s influence on the Panel, including a conflict-of-interest policy and measures around corporate secrecy that will be key to ensuring the integrity of the Panel’s work. 

Recent research published in the British Medical Association journal BMJ Open notes the growing evidence that “…the economic power of corporations, particularly that of large transnationals, has led to the defeat, delay and weakening of public health policies around the world.” Further, a published review of Conflict of Interest (COI) in scientific research related to regulation and litigation showed that industry manipulates research through funding, research design, data falsification or fabrication, data analysis and interpretation, and suppression of results. It also showed that conflicts of interest damage the public trust in research.  

Listing lead chromates under the Rotterdam Convention is needed to address transparency in the lead paint industry

Jakarta, 11 June 2024 - A study released today by Nexus3 and IPEN finds that workers in factories where lead paint is made have increased risks for health problems, including cancer, compared to workers where lead-safe paints are made. Using blood lead level testing, the study finds that workers in the lead paint making facilities had blood lead levels linked to a significant increase in their lifetime cancer risk, 4 times higher than for workers in a facility that eliminated lead nearly 20 years ago, and 2.5 times higher than for workers in a facility that eliminated lead recently.

“More than 90% of raw materials used to produce paints are chemicals. Our study shows that chronic exposure to lead and other heavy metals increases the cancer risk and non-cancer risks of paint workers. Replacing lead with safer alternatives, regular risk communication, the use of PPEs, and adequate facilities for workers to clean themselves before they go home is crucial to protect workers," said Yuyun Ismawati, Senior Advisor with Nexus3 Foundation. "The government of Indonesia must prohibit lead paint being manufactured and sold in Indonesia."  

See the press release in Korean and Vietnamese here.

New report finds Samsung’s manufacturing in Vietnam has threatened the health of workers and surrounding communities

(Seoul, South Korea): Despite global use of consumer electronics and chemical-intensive manufacturing processes, the harsh realities of electronics manufacturing have largely been hidden from public sight. Now for the first time, an industry insider has stepped forward as a whistleblower, providing internal documents and photos revealing Samsung’s polluting operations, worker health and safety issues, poor management, outsourcing of harm, double standards, and violations of UN human rights principles.

The whistleblower’s findings are revealed in an unprecedented, detailed study released today by Supporters for the Health and Rights of Workers in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS) in South Korea, the Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) in Vietnam, and IPEN.  The whistleblower worked for forty years as a manager of environmental, health and safety at Samsung and spent years conducting internal investigations of the company’s factories and suppliers in Vietnam from 2012 – 2021, documenting polluting operations continuing to the present.

“Samsung and its suppliers have demonstrated deep disrespect for Vietnam’s environment and its workers,” said Ms. Pham Thi Minh Hang, CGFED. “Samsung should fulfill the right to safe and healthy environment and support the right to form independent trade unions by advocating for Vietnam’s ratification of ILO Convention 87 instead of lobbying against it.” 

Factories making clothes for major global fashion brands linked to toxic “forever chemical” contamination of Dhaka’s surface and drinking waters

Dhaka, Bangladesh-A study released today by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) and IPEN reveals high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals in surface and tap water samples collected near industrial areas that are centers of the textiles industry throughout and around Dhaka. PFAS chemicals were found in nearly all samples. The water analyses showed PFAS amounts in many samples at levels above current or proposed regulatory limits in the EU, US, or the Netherlands, with several samples containing one or more globally banned PFAS. 

The study, “Persistent Threat: PFAS in textiles and water in Bangladesh,” notes that the textile industry in Bangladesh is a global center of the export “fast fashion” sector, with dozens of factories making clothing for major brands. PFAS are found in countless products where they provide water-, grease-, and stain-resistance and are widely used by the textiles industry, which accounts for about 50% of the total global use of PFAS and ranks second in PFAS emissions.

“Bangladesh is an international textiles manufacturing hub, and the prevalence of toxic chemical emissions from this sector puts our residents at higher risk. The fashion export industry should not get a free pass to contaminate our rivers, lakes, and taps with PFAS,” said Siddika Sultana, Executive Director of ESDO in Bangladesh. “We are not against industry, but we are against pollution. As a party to the Stockholm Convention, Bangladesh should implement PFAS regulations and health-protective standards.”

A new report from Alaska Community Action on Toxics and IPEN finds that chemicals, plastics, and climate change are interrelated and threaten Arctic Peoples and lands. These forces have combined to poison lands, waters, and traditional foods of Arctic Indigenous Peoples, with ongoing health effects that threaten their cultures and communities.

While over-fishing continues to be problematic, our report details three case studies of river ecosystems in Vietnam, Canada, and Australia to highlight other significant causes of sustainability decline which remain dangerously overlooked.

New report shows that more than two hundred highly hazardous pesticides prohibited in the EU are still widely used in the developing world

Nairobi-In a historic move for safer food and farming, the U.N. Environment Assembly (UNEA) today called for action by 2035 to eliminate the use of the world’s most toxic pesticides globally. Called highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs), these chemicals are known to cause significant environmental damage and pose serious threats to health. Exposures to HHPs have been linked to cancer, impaired neurodevelopment in children, reproductive health effects, and endocrine disruption, among other serious conditions.

IPEN and PAN have collaborated on efforts to end the use of HHPs around the world for more than a decade. An IPEN report released at UNEA earlier this week outlines 83 projects by public interest groups in 43 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) focused on ending the use of HHPs and promoting safer farming practices. The analyses in the report were based on the PAN International List of Highly Hazardous Pesticides. The report found that while wealthier nations have banned or regulated most HHPs, the toxic pesticides are still widely used in LMICs, with some countries reporting that almost 70% of all pesticides allowed for use were HHPs.

The call for UNEA action was led by African nations, with Ethiopia taking a leading role. “These highly toxic chemicals continue to threaten our health and the health of millions of people where HHPs are still used,” said Dr. Tadesse Amera, Executive Director of PAN-Ethiopia, International Co-coordinator of PAN, and IPEN Co-chair. “We know that organic and agroecological practices are available and profitable in many countries but marketing and sales of HHPs undermines the transition to these healthier practices. We need a swift phase-out of HHPs for our health and the health of the planet.” 

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