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A Toxics-Free Future

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Highlights Front Roll

Understanding the Connection between COVID-19 and Chemicals
Report Highlights Threats of Toxic Additives in Plastic
Holding Producers Responsible: Financing the Sound Management of Chemicals
Australia plastics waste ban highjacked by incineration proposals
IPEN Leader Speaks Against US Dumping Plastics and Chemicals in Africa
Study Reveals High Levels of Lead in Spray Paints
New Study Proves Dioxins in Plastic Toys Harm Children

The participation of non-professional scientists in scientific research or monitoring efforts can empower grassroots organizations and movements into advancing a sustainable and toxics-free future for all.

Citizen science, as it is generally called, has become a strategic tool enabling communities impacted by chemical and waste problems to empower themselves with data and information that can be used to assert their rights to a healthy and safe environment. A four-part online regional conference commencing today will put a spotlight on the application of citizen science in addressing such problems affecting mostly poor and marginalized communities, with children, pregnant women and workers at greater risk. It will bring together over 70 citizen science advocates, practitioners and learners from 11 countries.

The International Pollutants Elimination Network - Southeast and East Asia (IPEN-SEA) Virtual Conference that is taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic is co-organized by Nexus3 Foundation-Indonesia, EcoWaste Coalition-Philippines and the Ecological Alert and Recovery- Thailand with support from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and IPEN. “Through the years, citizen science has developed into a practical and potent tool for helpless victims who often suffer in silence from the destructive pollution caused by powerful commercial and industrial interests,” noted Penchom Saetang, Executive Director of EARTH and a citizen science practitioner for over 20 years.

(Gothenburg, Sweden) A new report from IPEN, with data on lead in paint from almost 60 countries, shows that in 25 out of 27 countries that adopted protective legal limits on lead in paint since 2008, the work of non-governmental organizations was key in moving forward standards, regulation, and enforcement. Countries without enforced regulations in place still had lead paint available on the market, posing health risks to children and other vulnerable groups.

A survey from the World Health Organization shows that lead paint is still not regulated in a majority of countries, despite a global goal to phase out these paints by the year 2020. As of 31 May 2020, only 39% of countries had confirmed that they have legally binding controls on lead paint. In addition, many of these regulations are not protective enough since they include exemptions, lax limits, or are not enforced.

During the eighth annual International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, beginning October 25, 2020, activities by NGOs in 36 countries will celebrate success and highlight urgent needs for additional action.

IPEN participating organizations in 36 countries are taking part in the 8th edition of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week on October 25 to 31. This year’s campaign focuses on the need to hasten progress toward the global goal of phasing out lead paint through regulatory and legal measures. The Week of Action is spearheaded by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, which is jointly led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and which counts on IPEN and many of its POs from developing countries among its partners. What follows is a brief summary of our POs’ planned activities for the week-long campaign to raise awareness about the hazards and risks of lead, especially on the health of children and other vulnerable groups, and to mobilize stakeholders’ support for the enactment of strong lead paint laws and their effective enforcement.

New report highlights issues and solutions with chemicals in plastics

Although plastics pollution is getting more of the attention it has long deserved, often lost in the discussion are the toxic additives that contaminate plastic products, leach into food webs and the environment, and persist in recycling streams. Without addressing the harms created by these toxic additives, the prospect of achieving a safe circular economy is greatly hindered.

Plastic’s Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy, a new report developed in collaboration with multiple UN convention groups, technical experts, and organizations working to address pollution, discusses the key challenges society faces to eliminate toxic components in the plastics life-cycle, identifies chemicals and sectors of greatest concern, and outlines key approaches for tackling the issues.

Read the original press release from the Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society and IPEN in Korean

This is a press release from the Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society and IPEN. The Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society includes the following groups: Citizens' Action to Create Gunsan without Carcinogens; Civil Action to Create Ulsan without Carcinogens; Coalition of Health and Medical Organizations to Realize the Right to Health; Pharmaceutical Society for a Healthy Society; Dental Society for a Healthy Society; Labor Health Alliance; Humanitarian Practitioner Council; Young Korean Medical Association for the Realization of True Medicine; Green Alliance; Child Health National Solidarity; iCOOP Seoul Council; Korean Women's Environmental Network; Wonjin Foundation; Environment Health Research Institute; National Metal Workers' Union; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; National Parents' Association for True Education; Green Education Solidarity; Blue Gwangmyeong 21 Action Council; Environmental Movement Alliance; and Environmental Justice.

On September 25, 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it would sign a “multilateral agreement on the use of lead-reducing paint that complies with international standards”. The main focus is to use products with excellent safety and low lead content below the recommended level of the World Health Organization (WHO) in city-managed facilities and public places. The agreement includes five paint manufacturers, the Korea Paint Ink Industry Cooperative, Seoul Facilities Corporation, SH Corporation, and the Green Seoul Citizens' Committee. This is a valuable fruit of civil society organizations that have been working for a safe environment for children from harmful substances, paint manufacturers that manufacture safe products, and Seoul's efforts to make Seoul safe from harmful substances.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, through this agreement, less than 0.009% (90ppm) lead in the interior and exterior of public facilities managed by the Seoul Facilities Corporation and public housing sold, rented, and managed by the Seoul Housing and Urban Corporation (SH) comply with international standards. Only paints containing this will be used.

For Immediate Release

View the Report, Executive Summary, Video, and FAQ (available in Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish)

(Gothenburg, Sweden) As people and ecosystems around the world are increasingly exposed to multiple and interacting hazardous chemicals, experts from leading international law and global chemical safety organizations are releasing a groundbreaking report that offers a clear pathway to finance the control and regulate toxic chemicals and waste: a producer-pays tax on basic chemicals.

The chemical industry generates trillions of dollars in annual sales (projecting sales over USD 11 trillion in 2030), but it does not bear the significant health and environmental costs that derive from its activities. These costs, according to World Health Organization estimates, include 1.6 million annual premature deaths due to the global disease burden attributable to preventable chemical mismanagement and 45 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs).

The proposal by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) asserts that chemical producers must take greater financial responsibility for the safe management of their products, beginning with the production of feedstock chemicals that fuel the global chemicals sector and the rapidly growing petrochemical industry.

The plan proposes a small coordinated fee of 0.5% on the production value of basic chemicals that will fund the sound management of chemicals and waste. Basic chemicals are early-stage chemicals produced from petroleum, natural gas, and other raw materials. These chemicals represent the basic building blocks from which all other chemicals are made. In 2018, sales of basic chemicals totaled USD 2.3 trillion.

View the entire package, including the press release, reports, executive summary, FAQ, and videos.

Webinar series helps communities face wave of waste-to-energy proposals that hide toxic effects

Zero Waste Australia in concert with IPEN has created a webinar series aimed at steering communities back to an environmentally sound plastics waste strategy that doesn’t include waste-to-energy incineration projects, after the incineration industry seized upon a national declaration to end waste exports.

In 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) declared that waste plastic, glass, paper and tyres would no longer be exported, stating that: "The COAG waste export ban is the first step in taking responsibility for our own waste and using this resource to create jobs, spark innovation, and deliver strong environmental outcomes."

The waste industry was quick to see an opportunity. Now, much of Australia's waste will be reprocessed into Process Engineered Fuel and Refuse Derived Fuel — both mixtures of waste that include discarded material, including plastics — for continued export overseas or as fuel for paper mills, cement plants, and waste-to-energy incinerators in Australia.

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