IPEN and BAN call for stronger controls in upcoming Conference to the Parties of the Basel and Stockholm Conventions
Monday, 22 April 2019
(Göteborg, Sweden): New research from IPEN and Basel Action Network (BAN) reveals dire human exposures and food chain contamination from highly toxic plastics in waste in Ghana that includes toxic e-waste shipped from Europe. Researchers have found the highest levels of brominated and chlorinated dioxins— some of the most hazardous chemicals on Earth— ever measured in free-range chicken eggs in Agbogbloshie, Ghana. The contamination results primarily from the breaking apart of discarded electronics (e-waste) and burning plastics to recover metals. Plastics from vehicle upholstery are also burned on the site and contribute to the contamination.
Researchers analyzed the eggs of free-range chickens that forage in the Agbogbloshie slum, home to an estimated 80,000 people who subsist primarily by retrieving and selling copper cable and other metals from e-waste. The process of smashing and burning the plastic casing and cables, to extract the metals, releases dangerous chemicals found within the plastics, such as brominated flame retardants, and creates highly toxic by-product chemicals like brominated and chlorinated dioxins and furans. The sampling of eggs revealed alarmingly high levels of some of the most hazardous and banned chemicals in the world, including dioxins, brominated dioxins, PCBs, PBDE and SCCPs.
As the 2019 Basel-Rotterdam-Stockholm Conventions Conferences of the Parties (BRS COPs) approaches, IPEN has dedicated the first of its 2019 bi-annual global newsletters to cover persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
In the newsletter, entitled "IPEN Working To Eliminate POPs On The Ground," IPEN Science Advisor Dr. Sara Brosché states, "Strong measures under the Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions are crucial to stop the production and release of POPs and should be effectively implemented nationally. Hazardous waste limits should be protective and regrettable substitutions with related toxic chemicals prohibited.However, this is far from enough. Only 28 out of thousands of potential POPs are listed under the Stockholm Convention today and efforts need to be scaled up dramatically.”
This newsletter covers some work of IPEN Participating Organizations around the globe who have researched and/or monitored POPs in their countries. Topics include POPs Country Situation Reports, POPs in Community Food Chains, Toxic Recycling, Non-combustion Technologies for POPs Waste Destruction, Dicofol and PFOA, Sulfluramid, and POPs in Our Oceans.
In the run-up to the Stockholm Convention's 9th Conference of the Parties, IPEN has released its "Views of Stockholm Convention COP9." This document is a summary statement of IPEN views on issues that COP9 will be called upon to address, including POPs wastes, technical assistance and regional centres, rules of procedure, compliance, listing of dicofol and PFOA, illegal traffic, rules of procedure, evaluation of PFOS, and more.
The Views document can be read here and on IPEN's page for COP9, which has additional information about IPEN activities and publications related to the conference.
With six other health and environment groups, IPEN has answered a letter by European Commissioner Karmenu Vella following a former NGO call on the EC to adopt strict and protective limits for PBDEs in articles and waste into the POPs Regulation, so that the EU will comply with its obligations stemming from the Stockholm Convention. In the letter, the NGOs provide additional arguments that invalidate European Commission (EC) claims. Read the NGO reply letter here.
A recent legal opinion from the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation Law Corporation has determined Canada’s refusal to repatriate 103 shipping containers of garbage illegally dumped in the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 to be in violation of the Basel Convention.
A recent analysis (by IPEN, Arnika and other NGOs) of consumer products sold in Brazil, Canada, Cambodia, EU and Japan made from recycled plastics has revealed toxic flame-retardant contamination in some children's toys, hair accessories, office supplies, kitchen utensils and other plastic products.
Lee Bell ESD, IPEN's Mercury Policy Advisor, and Jindrich Petrlik RNDr., Chair of IPEN's Dioxin, PCBs and Waste Working Group and Director of Arnika's Toxics and Waste Programme, have contributed to a new paper that addresses POPs-contaminated sites and the need for stringent soil standards: