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A Toxics-Free Future

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Highlights Front Roll

Plastics, Plastic Waste, and Chemicals in Africa
New Video: Plastics Poisoning Our Health
Promoting Stronger Protections on Chemicals at BRS COP
How the UNEA Plastics Resolutions Relates to Chemicals and Health
Plastic Poisons the Circular Economy
Plastic Waste Fuels: policy spreads toxic trade across Asia
UN Special Rapporteur urges closing a loophole in Minamata Convention on Mercury to stop human rights abuses linked to mercury in gold mining

Geneva, Switzerland - As many as 15 million men, women and children around the world suffer significant and potentially life-threatening human rights abuses from mercury used in small-scale gold mining, according to a groundbreaking report presented today by Marcos A. Orellana, the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights.

A delegation of IPEN members are joining the resumed eighteenth session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in Dakar, Senegal this week, under the theme: “Ensuring the well-being of populations and ensuring environmental sustainability in Africa".

The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) was signed in 2006 at the first session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM). SAICM is a unique global strategy to create a world where chemicals are no longer produced or used in ways that harm human health and the environment.

IPEN is actively engaged in the August 2022 in-person SAICM IP4 (4th Intersessional Process) meeting in Bucharest, Romania. We have engaged with the SAICM process since the first Preparatory meeting in 2003 and continue to support the contributions of our member organizations around the world to the SAICM Process today. 

While the Stockholm Convention provides an international forum to develop protections from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), there are thousands of toxic chemicals that can harm our health and the environment but are not considered POPs. SAICM the only international agreement that addresses the full range of health and environmental concerns associated with the production and use of these chemicals.

Although it is not legally binding, the adoption of SAICM by more than 100 governments around the world provides the momentum for an international movement to reform chemical policies and practices. SAICM’s objective is to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, “by 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.”  

However, as early as 2013 the African Region noted that “Challenges in the sound management of chemicals will persist beyond 2020 as new chemicals enter the market and new emerging policy issues are identified.”

See the Information Materials page for resources relevant to SAICM IP4 and other background materials.

IPEN Pamphlet

SAICM is a critical tool for sustainable development as the only framework to address the hundreds of thousands of toxic chemicals not covered by any other global agreement.

This poster explains why SAICM is necessary, today's reality of planetary threats from chemical pollution, and what is needed for ICCM5 to have a strong, meaningful framework.

IPEN SAICM: A Critical Tool



Two young kids holding yellow signs reading "Ban Lead Paints"

In an article for Asia Pacific Coatings Journal (APCJ), the leading trade magazine for the coatings industry in Asia, IPEN Senior Adviser Jack Weinberg and Jeiel Guarino, IPEN Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner describe the need for and effects of stricter global rules to end the trade in lead chromates, the pigments used in lead paint.

Lead paints were banned in many wealthy countries decades ago, but they are still widely used in many countries. The WHO says that lead paint continues to be one of the largest sources of domestic exposure to lead in children, and doctors and scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

A study published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research co-authored by IPEN co-chair Pamela Miller with a group of scientists, colleagues from Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), and Indigenous community leaders found that highly toxic chemicals have accumulated in the bodies of seals, whales, and reindeer of the northern Bering Sea, contaminating vital food sources of Arctic Indigenous people.

The researchers coordinated with Indigenous hunters to collect tissue samples from traditionally harvested animals and found that toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) that were phased out in the U.S. in 2004 were frequently detected in all samples. The “forever chemicals” PFAS, substances linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and other health conditions, were also found in some samples. The study concluded that “…PBDEs are present in tissues of traditional food animals… and consumption of these animals likely contributes to exposure among Arctic Indigenous Peoples.”

The IPEN team this week will participate in the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, to highlight the threats to oceans from toxic chemicals, including chemicals in plastics that pose threats to human health and marine life.

Joint press release of Oeko-Institut, PAN-Ethiopia, Centre for Sustainable Cycles, Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action and SRADev

Addis Abeba/Freiburg/Koforidua/Lagos/Mombasa The export of used lithium-ion batteries for second-life applications from Europe to Africa must follow clear rules and be better controlled. This is what Researchers and environmentalists from Oeko-Institut (Germany), PAN- Ethiopia (Ethiopia), the Centre for Sustainable Cycles (Ghana), the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action (Kenya), and SRADev (Nigeria) call for.

Second-life for Lithium-ion batteries: In Africa or Europe?

In view of the currently rapidly growing number of used batteries from electric vehicles, buses and e-scooters, the question of proper end-of-life management is becoming more and more urgent. Although recycling capacities are being built up in the EU, the logistics and recycling processes are usually associated with considerable costs.

"There is currently a trend to 'donate' used batteries to other countries," says battery researcher Dr Johannes Betz of the Oeko-Institut. Many manufacturers argue that used batteries can still be used – for example in solar projects in Africa. More and more projects and press releases are praising this so-called repurposing approach as a solution. "Repurposing of used Li-ion batteries can certainly yield many environmental benefits”, says Betz. "But it is hard to understand why the focus is on shipping old batteries to low- and middle- income countries, given the great need for electricity storage in Germany and the EU”.

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