U.N. Expert Committee Acts on Hazardous Chemicals in Plastics
(Gothenburg, Sweden) A U.N. expert committee to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) has evaluated two chemical additives to plastics and determined that only one qualifies to move forward in the process to be listed for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention.
The committee failed to reach a consensus that the flame retardant the chemical Dechlorane plus (DP) is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted. DP is an example of a substance that never should have been produced as it is a slight modification of mirex – one of the original dirty dozen substances listed in the Convention. It has been produced since the 1960s and used in plastics for computers and televisions, coatings for wires and cables, and polyurethane foam. It has been found in human milk, serum, and cord blood and can cause neurotoxicity, liver impairment, and endocrine disruption.
“We are appalled that the Committee allowed a few individuals to de-rail progress toward elimination of this dangerous chemical and failed to consider properly the body of evidence on its adverse effects. It is critical that the global community swiftly eliminates the manufacturing and use of this dangerous chemical. Dechlorane plus is currently marketed as a replacement for the flame retardant decaBDE and as a substitute for mirex. This is a stark example of a regrettable, ill-advised substitution. Studies show rising levels of DP, perhaps indicating that DP is being increasingly used as a replacement for decaBDE. DP threatens the development and health of our next generations and concerted international action must be taken to prevent further harm,” said Pamela Miller, IPEN Co-Chair and Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The Committee will re-evaluate Dechlorane plus at its next meeting in September 2021.
Eggs from chickens that forage around waste yards and plastic burning sites are a risk as they have been found to contain high levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Studies carried out in Kenya and Tanzania found high levels of POPs in the eggs from such chickens, pointing to an environment polluted with chemicals, including banned and current-use plastic additives and chemicals created from burning plastics.
The study, “Plastic waste poisons the food chain in Kenya and Tanzania” was done to monitor persistent organic contaminants for human health and food.
In Kenya, the study was done with eggs produced by hens in the vicinity of a school community cooker in Mirema, Nairobi, that burns plastic waste for fuel. In Tanzania, it was carried out with free-range chicken eggs at households in Pugu Kinyamwezi located next to a large municipal solid waste dumpsite on the south-western edge of Dar es Salaam.
The study spearheaded by IPEN and local environment watchdogs — Centre for Environmental Justice and Development (CEJAD) in Kenya and Agenda for Environment and Responsible Development (Agenda) in Tanzania — found the eggs contained dioxins and POPs like brominated flame retardants.
Environmental groups are accusing the Trudeau government of acting in bad faith after it quietly signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. that could allow it to evade some of its obligations to stop shipping plastic waste to poor countries around the world.
The Australian Government’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill is progressing through the Australian Parliament this week.
The bill is designed to strengthen product stewardship laws and prevent the export of Australian waste in response to the international condemnation of waste dumping by OECD countries like Australia in the Asia Pacific region and to support a much-needed Australian recycling sector.
Drone view of Thai "dioxin factory" where circuit boards and wires are burned in a giant smelter. Toxic smoke belches from the stack, while ash piles are visible in foreground, and imported electronic equipment seen in the background. Photo Basel Action Network (BAN).
Strict Enforcement and Similar Actions by other Countries Called For
Thursday, 08 October 2020
Bangkok, Thailand and Seattle, WA, USA. October 6, 2020. Following repeated revelations of the dumping of electronic wastes, from countries such as the US, Japan, and Australia, the Thai government has finally passed a full prohibition on the import of such hazardous wastes into Thailand. Environmental groups that had been calling for such a ban for several years applauded the move but now call for vigorous enforcement of the law, the addition of plastic wastes and the ratification by Thailand of the Basel Convention's Ban Amendment.