If people live in a toxic environment, it is easier to become ill and therefore have a higher risk of losing income. IPEN’s work to eliminate lead from paint is one example of how we try to reduce potential toxic exposures at home.
Research has shown that continuous use of pesticides and insecticides can lead to resistance by the pest(s) being targeted. This is just one reason, among many important others related to human and environmental health, why a switch away from toxic pesticides to organic, agro-ecological methods is useful for maximum crop yields, which in turn supports zero hunger goals. IPEN’s support for country situation reports on highly hazardous pesticides is one example of how we try to raise awareness about dangerous pesticides and encourage safe farming practices.
Since IPEN’s beginnings, we have focused strongly on work related to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are substances that specifically remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time (many years); become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and, most notably, air; accumulate in living organisms including humans, and are found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain; and are toxic to both humans and wildlife. POPs particularly affect vulnerable communities, and for better health, it is vital for POPs to be eliminated from use. Whenever POPs are added to the Stockholm Convention for elimination, it means that extremely toxic chemicals will be phased out, and it is an opportunity for the global environment to become healthier. IPEN has attended every relevant Stockholm Convention meeting since its development, creates awareness-raising and capacity-building materials about POPs, and participates on numerous Stockholm Convention-related expert groups, including the POPRC.
As mentioned above, IPEN works to eliminate lead from paint. Even low levels of lead in blood can adversely affect IQ, the ability to pay attention and focus, and a child’s academic achievement. In addition to IPEN’s work on lead paint in the home, IPEN has also focused its research on lead paint at children’s playgrounds.
Women and chemicals is a priority topic for IPEN. To ensure realization of the goal of gender equality, in 2017 IPEN developed a Gender Initiative to empower women in our work to achieve a toxics-free future. Through our Initiative, IPEN continues to make sure that women are properly represented within IPEN’s leadership (including in its Steering Committee, Executive Committee and Co-Chairs), as well as at international policy meetings that undertake significant chemicals-related decisions.
IPEN works to improve water quality by reducing pollution from pesticide use, POPs, mercury use, incineration, plastic and more. IPEN’s Ocean Pollutants Guide raises awareness about how there are major threats to water quality from inadequate treatment of both municipal and industrial wastewater; how microplastic contamination has been found in 83% of tap water samples tested around the world; and how the use of PFOS contributes to contamination of drinking water supplies and has important human health impacts, among other points.
IPEN continues to work on so-called “waste-to-energy” issues (as in our report “Plastic Waste Poisons Indonesia’s Food Chain”) and raise the alarm about the multiple dangers of hydraulic fracking. In addition, IPEN recently added the subject of ‘Toxic Pollutants and the Fossil Fuel Cycle’ into the group of priority issues that we focus on.
IPEN has analyzed hundreds of toys to determine whether they contain toxic metals or chemicals that would be harmful to children’s health. With this analysis, IPEN has, for example, worked to convince policy-makers that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of new plastic children’s toys and related products, and should not be part of sustainable production practices or a circular economy.
In addition to the points mentioned under SDG #6, IPEN research has demonstrated the impact of mercury pollution in waters of the Asia Pacific region, and IPEN’s work on new POPs, through the Stockholm Convention POPs Review Committee, has highlighted the increasing detection of new POPs such as PFOS and PBDEs in the marine environment.
The IPEN network is comprised of over 500 non-profit organizations from all over the world, in every continent save Antarctica. IPEN works continuously on movement-building, creating a strong civil society working for a toxics-free future. IPEN also, through its participation at legally-binding fora like the Stockholm Convention on POPs, promotes the rule of law at the international level.
IPEN reinforces this goal through work with our partners in developing countries. This work includes capacity-building trainings on organizational financial management; promoting information about environmentally sound technologies (such as alternatives to incineration); and providing scientific data (for example, on mercury levels in hair) via joint biomonitoring activities and productingredient analysis. IPEN additionally raises funds for project implementation by our partners in developing countries. Finally, IPEN seeks scientific and academic collaborators outside the Network to build civil society partnerships, jointly reach results and complement each other’s skills