Gothenburg, Sweden - Women are disproportionally impacted by exposure to chemicals and wastes and under-represented in the governments and private industries that are making decisions about how hazardous chemicals will be used and manufactured. This finding comes from a new report released today to commemorate International Women's Day. The report highlights the effects toxic chemicals have on women around the world while recognizing the key role women play as key agents of change at all levels of society.
“Gender inequalities impact exposure to toxic chemicals at all levels. In the boardrooms and where decisions are being made, women are under-represented and at work they often lack safety information and access to properly fitting protective equipment. And as the carriers of future generations, they face special vulnerabilities from toxic exposure. All of these inequalities lead in many cases to higher impact of toxic chemicals on women. At the same time, we are encouraged that women, in many countries are leading the way in addressing these practical and structural inequalities” said Dr. Sara Brosché, Science Advisor to IPEN and lead author of the report.
The new report, Women, Chemicals and the SDGs, was written and released by the global NGO network, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. The report describes how both gender – the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female – and biological sex impact the severity of chemical exposure and the resulting health impacts a woman, and the baby she may be carrying, may experience. It also provides concrete recommendations to safeguard the health of women and empower women to continue to be leaders towards a more equal future.
EcoWaste Coalition cautions consumers against mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in the wake of 3.3. online shopping spree
Monday, 01 March 2021
Quezon City, Philippines - The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition today released a new report revealing the unethical and unlawful use of online shopping and social media sites to sell skin bleaching, lightening or whitening products containing mercury, a dangerous poison banned in cosmetic product formulations.
The group conducted the investigation to generate data that will help stem both the supply and demand for mercury-containing cosmetics and pro mote the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which phased-out in 2020 cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury above one part per million (ppm).
Of the 65 samples procured from online dealers and subsequently screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 40 were found to contain mercury above 1 ppm. Of these 40 samples, 38 had mercury in excess of 1,000 ppm, 25 with over 5,000 ppm, 19 with more than 15,000 ppm, and 5 were loaded with mercury above 25,000 ppm. None of the 65 samples are duly notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The European Court of Justice confirmed today that the EU illegally allowed dangerous substances for sale in paints when there were safer options – setting a precedent that tightens the screw on companies’ use of toxic chemicals in the EU.
Under EU law, the European Commission and Member States can authorize the use of a harmful chemical when there is no safer alternative available and when the societal benefits outweigh the risk.
Out of almost 200 corporate applications, the Commission has rejected almost none – even in cases where there were significant issues with the evidence companies provided.
The judgment today calls for a structural change in the way that the European Chemicals Agency and the Commission assess whether to allow the use of particularly dangerous chemicals in products and manufacturing processes in the EU.
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.
Calls for Identification and monitoring of source sites
Thursday, 14 January 2021
(Prague, Czech Republic) - The large group of perfluorinated chemicals, collectively known as PFAS and often called "Forever Chemicals" because they are not easily broken down, have been found nearly everywhere researchers have looked for them — but particularly in food, water supplies, and soils. Czech Republic NGO Arnika recently studied sources in and around Prague, and found PFAS, its related chemicals, and additionally brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in nearly every sample. The study, Forever Chemicals Round and Round, made clear that identifying and continually monitoring PFAS and BFR sources is vital for community health and environmental sustainability.
Although regulation of these chemicals is increasing, the categories of perfluorinated and brominated chemicals are large. So as one chemical is identified and listed for restriction, another is adopted for use, all without understanding the underlying health effects. Ironically, many of these substances have known, safe alternatives. In response to studies showing PFAS in blood samples of firefighters, airports have been moving to safer fire-fighting foams, replacing fluorinated forms, which constitute roughly one-third of known PFAS contamination and which have been found in water ways near airports, including in Arnika's recent study.
“Perfluorinated substances and brominated flame retardants are not essential for the majority of applications and there are already safer alternatives on the market today. Therefore, their production should stop immediately. We call on both manufacturers and legislators to restrict the use of these toxic substances for all non-essential purposes. The deterioration in the quality of drinking water and the global environmental contamination caused by PFAS are irreversible,” says Jitka Strakova from Arnika.
Guest column by Griffins Ochieng and Yuyun Ismawati Originally published December 23, 2020, on allAfrica.com
Kenya has been a beacon for global efforts to reduce plastics. The country’s 2017 plastic bag ban reduced environmental degradation that comes from plastic waste and demonstrated decisive government action against plastic pollution. Now, Kenya finds itself again in the spotlight as the primary line of defense to protect Africans from an unprecedented explosion of toxic plastic waste across the continent. New research exposing that toxic chemicals from plastics are poisoning Africa’s food chain, covered in The East African, should strengthen governmental resolve to protect the collective health of Kenyans and all Africans.
When China closed its door to imports of the world’s plastic waste in 2017, the world’s biggest plastic waste producers began dumping plastic waste in countries with developing economies and weaker environmental infrastructures, predominantly in South East Asia. The recycling game had been disrupted , but the world pushed back .
In 2020, Kenya joined 183 other countries in giving developing countries a simple tool to resist the dumping of waste from the global north. Kenya signed the sensible Basel Convention Plastic Waste Amendment , which requires importers to declare the contents of their shipments and secure prior informed contest from importing countries before shipping plastic waste.
Governments and advocates have joined forces and worked to repatriate unwanted waste from the Philippines , Indonesia , Malaysia , and Thailand . Interpol documented a dramatic upswing in criminal plastic waste dumping, further underscoring that plastic waste is a burden that no one wants.
Yet despite the growing global movement against plastic pollution, the chemical industry is moving to create MORE plastics, aiming to triple the supply by 2030 . Why? Over 99% of plastic is made from chemicals sourced from oil and gas. As prices drop for fossil fuel energy, the industry is increasing plastic production. Skyrocketing plastic production means an even larger colossus of plastic waste, waste that is riven with toxic chemicals that are hazardous to human health and the environment.
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.