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Neeri to work for elimination of persistent pollutants

Written By Krishna on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 11:16 AM

NAGPUR: City based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri) will be conducting research in management of already identified persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by the Stockholm Convention as well as identifying new ones. Not just that as part of withdrawal of POPs gradually from different countries still using them, it will work towards capacity building for assessment and mitigation of the POPS in the ten member countries of Asia Region of Stockholm Convention.

Towards this end, Neeri has organized a three day international workshop with support from the secretariat of the Convention in Geneva. "Neeri is expected to develop methods for assessment, checking and listing using right instrumentation, sampling techniques and detection of POPS for all the ten countries. The workshop is also directed at preparing national implementation plan for India," said the Neeri director Satish Wate.

CSIR-NEERI was nominated as Stockholm Convention Regional Centre (SCRC) on POPs for Asia region in September 2010 and has been endorsed at COP-5 (Conference of Parties to the convention) meeting held at Geneva (April 25th-29th 2011). Besides India the SCRC will serve Bangladesh, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, UAE and Vietnam.

Programme officer of the secretariat of convention Jacqueline Alvarez told TOI that the convention had first listed 12 POPs including DDT that were mainly fluorinated chemicals and added another (including brominated chemicals) 10 including a flame retardant for international discussion in 2013 at the next convention in Geneva. Four other chemicals are also under study. Though India is among the 177 countries party to the convention it and 20 other countries including Canada have not accepted the amendments yet.

"This workshop will help India use best available techniques and move forward in eliminating these pollutants. There are alternatives identified for replacing some known POPs but some countries like India say these alternatives are not acceptable to them as of now. So they are given an initial window period of five years followed by another five years if needed for developing alternatives. For this, they have to formally identify what they are using to allow them to continue using them for five years," explained Alvarez.

Once a country becomes a party, it has to prepare a plan of action to comply and bring in national legislations for rectification. Convention also has a clause that allows countries to change their stand in future. Some POPs already identified and banned in developed world include pesticides like Lindane, Endosulphan, certain industrial chemicals like Hexa bromodiphenyl and some PFOS or Perfluoro-octane sulfonate.

PFOS and their derivatives are commercially produced and used in India in textiles, leather products, metal plating, food packaging, fire fighting foams, floor polishes, denture cleaners, shampoos, coatings, additives, in photographic industry, and hydraulic fluids in aviation industry.

Reiner Ardnt, chair of the review committee of the Convention, said the POPs are bad for not just countries using them but for the world as they travel long distances, accumulate in organisms, don't degrade easily in the environment and are toxic for man and environment. The committee does an in depth evaluation of the chemicals based on the data furnished by the user country and information procured from other countries.

Asha Juwarkar, chief scientist and head of the Eco-System Division of Neeri, said the workshop would go a long way in enhancing understanding of the newly listed ten POPs and clarify the obligations and possible implications at national level.

Snehlata Shrivastav

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