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Pentachlorophenol should be eliminated globally: UN Experts

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, November 02, 2014 | 9:58 PM

Agrees that DecaBDE flame retardant is one of the world’s worst chemicals
(Rome, Italy) A UN expert committee recommended the global elimination of pentachlorophenol – a pesticide used for wood treatment including utility poles. In its recommendation for the Stockholm Convention, the Committee cited pentachlorophenol’s persistence, bioaccumulation, long-range transport, and its toxic impacts. 

The Committee found wide availability of non-chemical alternatives that were much safer than pentachlorophenol. Governments around the world will decide on the recommendation in May 2015, but typically accept the recommendations of its expert committees. 

“This is the beginning of the end of pentachlorophenol,” said Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics. “Pentachlorophenol has global health implications since it is found in the bodies of people throughout the world including Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic. Now governments and the private sector need to get to work to finally eliminate this toxic chemical.” 

The Stockholm Convention expert committee also agreed that DecaBDE - a commonly-used chemical marketed as a flame retardant – warranted global action due to its harmful properties. 

“DecaBDE is close to all of us since it is widely found consumer electronics,” said Dr. Joe DiGangi, science and technical advisor for IPEN. “The expert committee signaled that DecaBDE is not manageable. This should move consumers, companies, and governments toward a global ban.” 

The Committee evaluated alternatives to PFOS, a surface treatment chemical with a variety of uses. PFOS is directly released to the environment when it is used in drilling fluids by the oil, gas, and fracking industries. The Committee will deliver new information on PFOS alternatives tohelp governments end certain uses. 

“We are delighted that the POPRC recommended full labeling of consumer products contaminated with PFOS,” said Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN policy advisor. “Now governments need to take the next step and remove unwanted and unnecessary exemptions to this harmful chemical.” 

Finally, the expert group decided that Dicofol – a pesticide that uses DDT in its synthesis – contained key harmful properties that justified a full investigation. 

“Dicofol is DDT’s first cousin and there is a family resemblance,” said Dr. Meriel Watts of Pesticide Action Network. “It is widely used in agriculture and orchid cultivation, found in breast milk, and causes endocrine disruption.This chemical is overdue for elimination” 

IPEN is an international NGO comprised of 700 organizations in 116 countries that work to minimize, and whenever possible, eliminate, hazardous, toxic substances internationally and within their own countries. IPEN has been actively involved in the POPRC process for ten years.
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