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IPEN

A Toxics-Free Future

Highlights Front Roll

New Global Mercury in Women Study
Lead Poisoning Prevention Activities around the Globe
Minamata Disease is Not Over Yet
POPRC: No ‘Safe’ Concentration of PFOA in the Environment Can be Established
IPEN Participating Organizations Gather for EECCA Regional Meeting in Erevan, Armenia

FULL REPORT

(Göteborg, Sweden) In an unprecedented study on the experiences of women working at two Samsung factories in Vietnam, a report released this week documents health and workplace violations by the electronics industry giant. The workers’ experiences of frequent fainting, dizziness, miscarriages, standing for eight-to-twelve hours, and alternating day/night shift work are documented in a report released this week by the Hanoi-based Research Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) and IPEN, a global network of environment and health NGOs working to reduce harmful chemicals. 

Samsung dominates the global phone market as well as the electronics sector and economy of Vietnam, where 50% of its smart phones are produced. The electronics sector is a significant area of growth for Vietnam, as electronics exports outpace other exports. However, Vietnam has no labor codes specifically protecting the health of electronics industry workers, who are overwhelmingly women.

The study combines industrial sector research and qualitative narratives of 45 workers, and is the first of its kind in Vietnam to shed light on the experiences of the predominantly female electronics industry workers. Because Samsung is notoriously secretive, it offers a rare glimpse into life on the Samsung factory floor. 

How to deal with toxic pollution: That was the main theme of the IPEN Central and Eastern Europe Regional Meeting that took place in Prague in October, 2017. The three-day conference of regional non-governmental organizations discussed a common future approach for Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting included an excursion to Spolana – a chlorine factory which is the biggest contemporary polluter of the Czech Republic. This trip showed how difficult, though not impossible, it may be to resolve historical environmental burdens.

Right in the historical centre of the Czech capital, environmental activists shared their experience regarding crucial issues of soil, water and air contamination from toxic waste. The conference brought together almost 30 participants representing fifteen European countries. The main goal of the meeting was to enhance the cooperation of environmental NGOs in the region, based on IPEN’s 2020 Global Plan and strategy. Maria Ekström Johansson, IPEN’s Operations and Finance Director, presented this strategy on the first day.

UN Expert Committee recommends global action on outdated DDT-Contaminated Pesticide

(Rome, Italy) A UN technical committee has determined that Dicofol, an outdated DDT-contaminated pesticide should be eliminated globally under the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty that bans the world’s most hazardous chemical pollutants. 

The week-long meeting of the Stockholm Convention’s expert committee was held from 17-20th October 2017 and attended by many industry associations and companies involved in the production and use of fluorinated chemicals.

In Rome, the expert committee tackled a recommendation for adding PFOA to the treaty, including possible exemptions for continued uses. PFOA is known as the ‘Teflon chemical’ or C8 and has widely polluted drinking water throughout the world. The Committee began evaluation of the industry’s fluorinated substitute, PFHxS, which has been widely used as an alternative for PFOS.

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(Gothenburg, Sweden) Decorative paint containing levels of lead dangerous to children is widely available in more than 50 low- and middle-income countries, according to a new report released today by IPEN, an international organization promoting safe and sustainable chemical use. Lead in Solvent-Based Paints for Home Use -Global Report is the world’s most comprehensive review of lead in paint sold around the world and brings together data from all paint studies conducted since 2009 in 55 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The report also includes never before released data from new studies conducted in 2017 in 19 countries.

“It is really quite shocking that manufacturers continue to produce lead paints for use in homes, schools and day care centers knowing that exposing children to lead can lead to permanent brain damage, especially since safer paint ingredients have been available and in use for decades,” said Dr. Sara Brosché, Campaign Manager, IPEN Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign. “While some major producers have begun removing lead from their products, an alarming amount of lead paint containing lead levels dangerous to children continues to be sold in all regions of the world,” Brosché added.

IPEN joined the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and 17 additional NGOs in a letter to the European Commission to express concerns about conflict of interest in the Stockholm Convention evaluation of PFOA (the “Teflon chemical”). PFOA is used in textiles and fire-fighting foams and to make coatings such as Teflon. 

In 2015, the EU nominated PFOA for listing in the Stockholm Convention and agreed to lead the evaluation drafting process. However, instead of carrying out the work in-house, the EU hired an industry consultancy (BiPRO). This resulted in proposals for a sweeping set of loopholes that undermine a global ban. BiPRO’s client list includes companies that make and/or use fluorinated chemicals, including PFOA.

In preparation for the 13th meeting of the Stockholm Convention's POPs Review Committee (POPRC), which will take place 17 - 20 October in Rome, IPEN has developed a Quick Guide to IPEN Views on POPRC 13. This document highlights IPEN's views on issues that the Committee will tackle at the meeting, including formal recommendations for listing two chemicals in the treaty: PFOA (the “Teflon chemical”) and dicofol (a pesticide linked to production of DDT).

IPEN Co-Chair, Olga Speranskaya, leads the EECCA Regional Meeting.

On September 28th and 29th, IPEN Participating Organizations from the Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia (EECCA) region met in Erevan, Armenia. At the meeting, IPEN POs in EECCA discussed IPEN's current and future projects, campaigns and initiatives, as well as the role IPEN EECCA POs will play in these activities. IPEN new initiatives, including Women and Chemicals, Gender Strategy, Women’s Caucus, Ocean Pollution, and Chemicals in Products were on the agenda of the meeting and aroused great interest. Three presentations on gender and endocrine disrupting chemicals, POPs in breast milk and monitoring of heavy metals in food linked the work of NGOs with that of the EECCA scientific community.

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