UN-backed conference promotes elimination of poisonous chemicals

4 May 2009 – Ministers and officials from 150 Governments are meeting at a United Nations-backed conference in Geneva from today to push efforts to rid the world of some of the most hazardous chemicals produced by humankind.

“The risks posed by such chemicals are profound and these toxic substances leave chemical footprints around the globe,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“This week in Geneva, Governments can make an important contribution to the poverty-related UN Millennium Development Goals as well as catalyzing a transition to a healthier, more sustainable Green Economy. I would urge them to take that opportunity and begin lifting another health threat from literally millions of peoples’ lives.”

The conference will break new ground in considering nine new chemicals for listing by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). They include substances which are widely used commercially, including as pesticides and flame retardants.

Until now, the Convention has targeted 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals known as the “dirty dozen,” which are linked with damage to human health, from cancer and reproductive disorders to the disruption of infant and child development.

A key issue on the conference agenda is an evaluation of whether the continued use of the pesticide DDT is justified in the fight against malaria. Delegates will consider a plan which promotes effective alternatives to DDT, which is one of the chemicals targeted by the Stockholm Convention for elimination.


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