Two-page guide to Minamata issues and the Minamata Convention related to the film "Minamata," which profiles the work of photojournalists Eugene Smith and Aileen Mioko Smith to document the tragedy of Minamata disease in Japan.
A new film starring Johnny Depp, "Minamata", directed by Andrew Levitas, tells the story of the legendary photo-journalist Eugene Smith and his wife Aileen Mioko Smith whose LIFE Magazine photos and book Minamata brought global attention to the devastating impacts of mercury pollution and exposed the corporate malfeasance of the Chisso Corporation that knowingly poured mercury-contaminated wastewater into Minamata Bay for decades. The film is an important opportunity to hold polluters accountable and to move global policy to more effectively curb mercury pollution.
Majority of Highly Hazardous Pesticides are sold by the top 5 agrochemical companies to developing countries such as India, a joint investigation by Unearthed and Public Eye shows. (Photo credit: SAHANIVASA)
PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) expressed alarm at a recent investigation that more than one-third of the income of the top five agrochemical companies comes from the sales of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).
In a joint investigation by Unearthed and Public Eye, it was revealed that in 2018, Bayer-Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta, FMC and Corteva (formerly Dow and DuPont) sold $4.8 billion worth of products that contain HHPs, or pesticides that are highly hazardous to people, animals or ecosystems.
These CropLife companies, which together dominate two-thirds of the global agrochemicals market, also mostly sold HHPs in low-and middle-income countries, which represented 45% of HHPs sales, in comparison to high-income countries, which represented only 27% of HHPs sales.
by Faridah Hussein Were Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, University of Nairobi
Africa is facing a serious lead poisoning problem. In Senegal, for example, researchers linked the deaths of children from processing lead waste to supply a lead battery recycling plant in a poor suburb of Dakar.
In Kenya, the legacy of a shutdown lead-recycling plant is causing major health problems for people living in the neighbourhood. And in Nigeria an investigation by journalists showed how lead battery recycling facilities were poisoning workers and the people living in the area.
The problem is growing along with the market for lead batteries. This is due to lack of regulation and investment in environmentally sound battery recycling plants. Most facilities in Africa are small. They weren’t built with adequate pollution controls to prevent disasters and ongoing contamination.
The production of lead batteries is growing rapidly in Africa as the market for lead batteries expands. Global lead output continues to grow, with about 85% production going to make batteries.
We conducted a study around lead battery recycling plants in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Tunisia. Our results showed significant lead contamination around 15 licensed battery recycling plants. This shows that informal sector recycling is not the only source of lead pollution.
The third Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention, held in Brazzaville from February 12 to 13, 2020, expressed the wish for a more efficient organisation of waste management. The challenge is to systematically prevent the import of toxic waste into Africa.
The Bamako Convention is not really applied in Africa, even 22 years after its entry into force. This treaty of African nations prohibiting the import into Africa of any type of hazardous waste (including radioactive waste), still remains an illusion for most countries on the continent.
“Chemicals are now everywhere and necessary for our daily lives. They are used in the majority of productive sectors and are exploited to solve several problems related to improving the quality of our lives. Of the 5 to 7 million known chemical substances, more than 80,000 are used by companies in their production processes and operations,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo and new current president of the Bamako Convention, whose third conference of the parties was held from the 12th to the 13th of February 2020 in Brazzaville, on the theme: “Working for Africa with a safe future for chemicals and waste”.
Jakarta, Indonesia – More than 60 people from government, industry, and civil society participated today in a workshop launching a project aimed at eliminating lead in paint in Indonesia. This initiative is part of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) project on global best practices for phasing out lead paint funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Ottawa, Canada – Only a small group of countries continues taking advantage of a loophole in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) that allow banned chemicals like toxic flame-retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in recycling. Canada is one of them. These toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) flame retardant chemicals were banned globally many years ago.
Environmental Health Groups Celebrate the End to EU Allowance for Banned Flame Retardant Chemicals to Enter Recycling Streams & New Products
(Gothenburg, Sweden) The European Union (EU) has taken an important step towards cleaning up its recycling; it will no longer allow materials containing a class of toxic, globally banned flame retardants known as PBDEs to be recycled. Researchers had revealed that across Europe, alarming levels of toxic banned flame retardants and related chemicals, which originated largely from discarded electronics equipment, were contaminating the recycling stream and new consumer goods made from recycled plastics. Environmental health advocates applaud the EU’s decision and encourage the six remaining countries with PBDE recycling exemptions to follow suit.