Environment groups laud decision to ban toxic chemicals in Geneva meeting

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 May) – Environmental groups here lauded the decision to ban certain highly toxic chemicals found in plastics and pesticides during the recent gathering of world leaders in Geneva, Switzerland for the 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Environment groups warning the public of toxic chemicals in toys. Photo courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition

In a statement released by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), around 120 countries agreed to add UV-328, Dechlorane Plus (DP), and Methoxychlor to the list of highly toxic chemicals subject to a global ban.

The Philippines became a signatory to the convention after ratifying it in 2004.

The groups said a global study, participated by various environmental groups including EcoWaste and IDIS, found traces of UV-328 in spilled or lost pre-production plastic pellets found on beaches and in recycled pellets collected in 35 countries, including the Philippines.

Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said on Monday that there is a need to do a national inventory on DP and UV-328 to inform and guide the country’s efforts towards elimination of these pollutants.

She said plastic additives DP and UV-328 are considered high production volume chemicals, especially in developed economies, but added that they have yet to determine how much of these chemicals are manufactured, imported, and used in the Philippines.

She said Methoxychlor is largely banned or phased out in most countries but is not yet in the list of prohibited or restricted pesticides of the country’s Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

The environment groups added that a related study found UV-328 in “children’s toys and hair accessories, which is particularly alarming due to its toxicity and endocrine disrupting effects.”

The groups, however, expressed concern that world leaders allow certain exemptions to the prohibition on the use of UV-328 and DP, which might “cause harm to health and the environment for decades.”

Lawyer Mark Peñalver, executive director of IDIS, said the decision to ban these chemicals would support their advocacy to disallow the use of “toxic chemical ingredients in plastics and phase out products and packaging materials containing substances that are hazardous to human beings, wildlife and the ecosystems.”

Lucero added that the decision to ban these chemicals is essential to redirect the economy onto a non-toxic circular path and ensure environmental health and justice across the globe.

“We laud COP-11 for agreeing to get rid of DP, UV-328 and methoxychlor in keeping with the promise of the Stockholm Convention to protect human health and the environment from these highly dangerous chemicals,” Lucero added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)