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DDT, PCBs, Dioxins & Endosufan Discussed on Fourth Day of UN POPs Meet

Written By krishna on Thursday, April 28, 2011 | 7:16 PM

Note:ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) supports Global Alliance for alternatives to DDT which has been formed for the development and deployment of products, methods and strategies as alternatives to DDT for disease vector control. Its first assembly was held on 26th April, 2011.

Silent Spring, written in 1962 by Rachel Carson (1907–1964), brought to the public's attention the results of use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Especially since then DDT has come to be seen as an enemy of the environment. Alarm bells has been ringing about DDT and other pesticides. There were many lawsuits filed in the 1950's by ornithologists and beekeepers about the implications of DDT on wildlife.

Paul Hermann Muller, a Nobel-Prize winning, Swiss scientist first discovered that the chemical DDT was highly lethal to insects in 1939.

SILENT SPRING did not call for a complete ban of DDT and other pesticides. Carson writes, "It is not my contention that chemical insecticides must never be used. I contend...that we have allowed these chemicals to be used with little or no advance investigation of their effect on soil, water, wildlife, and man himself."

Ten 10 years after the publication of Carson's book and 8 years after her death, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) banned DDT in America, with exemptions for health emergencies and some agricultural uses.

A paper "GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE OF DDT AND DDE LEVELS IN HUMAN TISSUES" published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health(2003; 16(1): 7—20) observes "The concern is that DDT and its principal metabolite dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethylene (DDE) pervade the environment in all forms of life, humans, plants, animals, water, air, and soil. DDT is known to have affected wildlife by causing the thinning of eggshells in bald eagles in the United States, and reproductive failures in other bird species. Humans are to a large extent exposed to DDT and DDE through diet."

It further notes "Both DDT and DDE are highly lipid soluble, accumulate in fat-containing foods, and travel through the food chain. Bioaccumulation of DDT and
DDE in humans occurs in adipose tissue at much higher levels, and to a lesser extent in the bloodstream and breast milk. A potential effect of DDE in humans is the risk
of breast cancer, since it is a xenoestrogen or described as an endocrine disruptor with estrogen-like effects. Other possible effects of DDT are low sperm counts,
testicular anomalies [12], premature delivery of fetus and small for gestational age fetuses."

It submits "We are aware that DDT and DDE are present in every part of the world, with higher concentrations in certain areas. On the whole, the levels of bioaccumulation in humans has decreased since the reduction in the use of DDT."

It concludes "Taking into consideration the needs of developing countries, their public health issues and financial restraints, the POPs treaty agreed on a partial ban on DDT till alternatives to the use of DDT are discovered and accepted."

"DDT was once thought to be the “miracle insecticide”, and its use was encouraged across the globe. At this point in time we have DDT and DDE present in the environment in every part of the world in all living species, in the food we consume, and in our bodies where they lie dormant. We are unaware of what harm they may cause to human health. To save the earth from further damage caused by organic persistent pollutants, the solution would be to prevent further exposure to DDT and DDE in the environment, in addition to what already exists."

TWA is in complete agreement with this conclusion.

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

The fifth Conference of the Parties (COP5) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) convened for its fourth day in Geneva, Switzerland on 28 April 2011.

In the morning, delegates discussed DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). During the afternoon delegates considered draft decisions on information exchange, effectiveness evaluation, non-compliance and endosulfan.

DDT: The Secretariat introduced documents inter alia, on: the promotion of DDT alternatives, and a report of the DDT expert group and implementation of activities of the Global Alliance for Alternatives to DDT (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/4-5, UNEP/POPS/COP.5/INF/2-3 and 36).

SOUTH AFRICA provided a summary of the First Assembly of the Global Alliance for Alternatives to DDT which convened on 26 April 2011, noted that the Alliance aims to coordinate activities on the development of alternatives, and called for
donor support.

Discussing the results of risk assessment of DDT use in indoor residual spraying, the WHO noted it has updated its position on the use of DDT and associated guidelines.

Noting that DDT was introduced to his country by WHO, GABON emphasized that it had not been effective in preventing vector borne disease and is now banned.

INDIA supported the continued use of DDT in line with WHO guidelines. The
AFRICAN GROUP called for technical assistance for judicious management of DDT use. MEXICO summarized efforts to phase-out DDT and offered to share its experiences.

The EU invited the Secretariat to collect information on alternatives to DDT, to be assessed by the expert group and POPRC.

INDONESIA recognized the need for a timeframe for reduction of DDT use and called for financial assistance for use of alternatives. The ARAB GROUP supported limits on the use of DDT and extension of resources to conduct inventories of DDT stockpiles.

BANGLADESH and the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC called for assistance with disposal of DDT

SWITZERLAND proposed that DDT be phased out by 2020, with review by the COP in 2019.

GHANA highlighted problems caused by unauthorized use of DDT. JAPAN called for further information on effective alternatives.

WHO emphasized that choice of insecticides must consider technical, biological, and epidemiological factors, and highlighted the issue of pyrethroid resistance in mosquitoes.

IPEN urged the COP to establish an independent monitoring mechanism in countries using DDT.

BIOVISION FOUNDATION supported rapid phase-out of DDT and deployment of new approaches.

The INDIAN CHEMICAL COUNCIL requested clarification on discrepancies concerning the number of countries that currently use DDT. AFRICA FIGHTING MALARIA drew attention to a decision taken by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance on the need for greater access to DDT to fight malaria.

President Blaha proposed, and delegates agreed, to request the Secretariat to prepare a draft decision on the issue.

PCBs: The Secretariat introduced the documents on PCBs(UNEP/POPS/COP.5/9, UNEP/POPS/COP.5/29, UNEP/POPS/ COP.5/INF/4 and UNEP/POPS/COP.5/INF/23).

SRI LANKA requested assistance in accessing test kits for identification of contaminated transformers.

MOLDOVA, with the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, supported the proposed measures in the Secretariat’s report (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/9).

The EU requested that assessment of progress in eliminating PCBs take place at COP7, and, supported by SWITZERLAND, MEXICO and JAPAN, emphasized that the PCB Elimination
Network (PEN) should not have financial consequences for the Stockholm Convention.

CHILE called for participation of sectors with relevant PCB(s) management experience.

IRAN, PAKISTAN, and BANGLADESH highlighted the importance of technology transfer and, with LEBANON, COLOMBIA, NIGERIA, and the ARAB GROUP, called for resources for PCB elimination.

CANADA called for the Basel Convention to lead work related to PCB waste. QATAR highlighted its work to eliminate PCBs in accordance with its NIP.

IRAQ called for technical assistance to help in PCB elimination. The AFRICAN GROUP called for, inter alia, training of personnel to deal with environmentally sound
management of PCBs; equipment for PCB testing; and disposal and destruction technologies.

INDONESIA requested that PEN be more focused on training and capacity building.

The CENTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEVELOPMENT highlighted measures being taken in Nepal to eliminate PCBs, including educating end-users on the dangers of these substances.

Offering the perspective that, through PEN, the Secretariat had become focused on implementation, Joint Executive Secretary Jim Willis presented the Secretariat’s proposal for PEN to continue its operations in a less formal manner, supported by UNEP, similar to the regional centers. COP5 President Blaha requested the Secretariat to prepare a draft decision on this matter.

Delegates considered the draft decision on the review and updating of the Standardized Toolkit for Identification and Quantification of Dioxin and Furan Releases (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/CRP.15), and adopted it without amendment.

Delegates considered the draft decision on listing of technical endosulfan, its related isomers, and endosulfan sulfate (UNEP/POPS/COP.5/CRP.19).

INDIA emphasized that all substantive decisions should be consensus-based; called for identification of safe non-POPs alternatives; and underscored the need for technical and financial assistance for developing countries.

KUWAIT supported a total ban on endosulfan. CUBA supported listing endosulfan, pending inclusion of a preambular paragraph in CRP.19 linking endosulfan to financial and technical assistance for developing countries.

NORWAY suggested this concern be reflected in decisions on financial resources.

CHINA supported CUBA and said endosulfan sulfates are not intentionally produced and should not be listed in Annex A.

SWITZERLAND called for adoption of the decision and noted that listing endosulfan would enable access to GEF funding.

The EU supported Switzerland and called for keeping endosulfan sulfate in the listing, but noted it could live with China’s proposal to include reference to endosulfan sulfate in a footnote as opposed to listing it in Annex A.

The AFRICAN GROUP called for adoption of the draft decisions on listing and the work programme on endosulfan (CRP.20).

CUBA reiterated its proposal to include reference to financial and technical assistance in CRP.19 and delegates agreed to defer discussion on this matter.

Although COP5 made steady progress on several issues and edged its way towards listing Endosulfan, COP5 President Blaha noted that postponing the decision to COP6 was “very sad.”

The above mentioned notes are based Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations.
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