High levels of toxic PFAS chemicals pollute breast milk around the world, IPEN reports

PFAS Pollution across the Middle East and Asia, 2019 IPEN Report

Decades after DuPont and 3M first discovered that the perfluorinated chemicals making them fortunes could be transmitted from mothers to babies, millions of women around the world are passing dangerous amounts of these toxic compounds to their children, according to a new IPEN document, the intercept reports.

Summary

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a large class of more than 4,500 fluorinated chemicals that have received significant public and media attention in Australia, EU, and the US, in part due to their toxicity, extreme persistence, and documented water pollution. However, information about PFAS in other parts of the world is largely lacking and the information which is available is difficult to access.

In 2019, IPEN participating organizations in twelve Middle Eastern and Asian countries conducted surveys to explore possible PFAS uses and pollution sources, scientific studies and government actions, including under the Stockholm Convention. Countries covered include: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Key Findings

  • PFAS are poorly regulated in all countries examine
  • PFAS substances contaminate adults and infants
  • Water pollution with PFAS substances is widespread
  • Marine and terrestrial organisms are contaminated with PFAS
  • Firefighting foams and extinguishers containing PFAS are in use
  • Consumer products are contaminated with PFAS
  • PFAS substances contaminate dust and particulate air pollution
  • US military bases in Japan cause PFAS pollution
  • Japan is an important PFAS producer
  • PFAS elimination contributes to achievement of the Sustainable
  • Development Goals (SDGs)

Highly Hazardous Pesticides in Mexico, IPEN Report, 2018

Hundreds of Banned, Highly Hazardous Pesticides Allowed in Mexico: New Report Calls for HHP Ban and Agroecological Alternatives

IPEN Press Release

(Göteborg, Sweden) – The report “Highly Hazardous Pesticides in Mexico,” coordinated by The Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM) is now available. In the foreword to the English edition, Hilal Elver, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, say:

“This book provides an excellent overview about the peril of the wide use of highly hazardous pesticides in Mexico, many banned in other countries.

“It highlights the need for changes in the regulatory framework and the promotion of emerging agroecological alternatives from peasant communities, including organic farming. It is a very good source to convince other developing countries to phase out dangerous agro-chemicals, achieve healthy food and healthy environments, all the while protecting human rights in agrarian communities and the right to adequate food for all people.”

they add.

The report highlights the fact that in Mexico, there are 140 active ingredients of pesticides that are authorized by the Federal Commission for the Protection of Health Risks (COFEPRIS) in thousands of commercial products that are banned in other countries, such as the insecticides parathion-methyl, carbofuran, and methamidophos. In addition, 183 active ingredients classified as dangerous by various international organizations in the Pesticide Action Network Highly Hazardous Pesticide (HHP) List for their short and long-term effects are authorized, including 43 pesticides that are probable causes of cancer in humans, such as herbicide glyphosate; and 35 hormonal disruptors such as insecticide chlorpyrifos-ethyl, authorized for agricultural, domestic, urban and livestock use. The use of these pesticides benefits transnational and national companies.

“A profound change in the neoliberal regulatory policy followed by governments in the last decades by health, environment and agriculture authorities in our country is necessary,”

said Fernando Bejarano, Director of RAPAM and coordinator of the report. He also pointed out,

“it is necessary to put at the center of the policy on pesticides and pest control the human dignity of exposed workers, as well as communities and consumers, rather than the protection of the profits and merchandise of powerful companies.”

The RAPAM specialist added,

“it is necessary to develop a national program of prohibition and increasing reduction of highly hazardous pesticides and the promotion of agro-ecological alternatives, especially in crops where they are already tested, and are near vulnerable populations and sensitive ecosystems.”

Finally, he stressed,

“The report details some short and long-term recommendations that authorities of the future government should consider, taking into account the evidence of the damages already caused and applying the precautionary principle in cases of controversy.”

The English edition includes an extensive chapter that analyzes how this new normative category of highly hazardous pesticides emerges in the international arena and their situation in Mexico, written by Fernando Bejarano, Director of RAPAM.

It also contains a chapter on human rights and pesticides, written by lawyers Victoria Beltrán, consultant, and Maria Colin from Greenpeace Mexico.

“In our country, there is a terrible management of these substances. Among the main problems are the absence of a definition of Highly Hazardous Pesticides, and policies that acknowledge the severe damages these pesticides cause; they must be withdrawn from the market.”

stated Maria Colin, legal campaigner of Greenpeace Mexico. She said,

“The excessive use, deficiencies in labeling, bad business practices, excessive confidentiality, lack of transparency, poor generation of data and statistics on the matter, lack of monitoring and surveillance, together with a perverse system of subsidies that support their continued use by farmers, constitute an attack on the human rights of the Mexican population. Because of these reasons, a new legal framework is urgently needed that has as its pillars the precautionary principle, as well as ‘the polluter pays’ and the substitution principle.”

“The economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, with its strong component of commitment and solidarity with humanity, tell us that all people are worthy of dignified living conditions, and thus, give legitimacy to the efforts that we undertake so as not to live in misery, in ignorance, or in unhealthy or contaminated environments,”

said Victoria Beltran, lawyer and consultant. She added:

“We believe that we should continue with the reflection on the topic of human rights and pesticides; with the understanding that states as guarantors have the duty to monitor the performance of state agents and also to make companies adjust their activities to a rights framework .”

The English edition also includes the translation of a chapter on insecticides and bees, written by a specialist, Remy Vandame, PhD in Ecology, from the Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chiapas. In Mexico, there have been 82 authorized active ingredients of insecticides present in hundreds of commercial products that can cause the death of bees, including the neonicotinoid insecticides outdoor banned in Europe, such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin.

The English edition, with the prologue of the United Nations rapporteurs, as well as the complete edition in Spanish, can be downloaded free of charge.

Reference.

Pentachlorophenol pesticide globally banned after unprecedented vote at UN chemicals meeting

Ninety-four countries voted in favor of global prohibition of pesticide pentachlorophenol

This post content is published by IPEN: toxics-free – a global network of 700+ public interest organizations working to eliminate toxic substances.

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Ninety-four countries voted in favor of global prohibition of pesticide pentachlorophenol.

(Geneva, Switzerland) – Delegates from more than 90 countries took the unprecedented step of voting for a global ban on pentachlorophenol – a proven toxic pesticide and contaminant found in wildlife and human biomonitoring studies worldwide. The historic vote came at the combined meetings of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions – which usually make decisions by consensus – after India repeatedly blocked action.

During the meeting, India surprisingly rejected the findings of the Stockholm Convention’s own scientific expert committee in which they participated. Switzerland triggered the voting procedure – the first in the history of the convention. Ninety-four countries voted in favor of global prohibition of pentachlorophenol; two opposed; and eight countries abstained.

We commend the global community for this important decision which will help ensure that the Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic and the traditional foods on which they depend are protected against toxic pentachlorophenol,” said Pamela Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics. The delegates of the Stockholm Convention also supported international bans on two other industrial chemicals that harm the global environment and human health: chlorinated naphthalenes and hexachlorobutadiene.

Delegates at the Rotterdam Convention failed to list two deadly substances, chrysotile asbestos and a paraquat formulation, despite the fact that exporters would simply have been required to notify and get permission from importing countries. Belarus, Cuba, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Russia all opposed listing chrysotile asbestos. Guatemala, India, Indonesia, and Paraguay blocked listing of the paraquat formulation.

All the candidate substances meet the Convention criteria according to the treaty’s own expert committee,” said Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN Sr. Policy Advisor. “That means that a small handful of opposing countries and their powerful industry representatives undermined the treaty with a political decision that disrespects governments’ right to know what substances are entering their borders. They simply put their own economic and trade interests before the health and well-being of the global environment and its inhabitants.”

The Basel Convention considered e-waste guidelines that would exempt equipment destined for repair from the treaty’s hazardous waste trade control procedures, a measure that would open the door to unscrupulous traders claiming all broken equipment as “repairable.” The Convention President pushed a decision to adopt this exemption after the meeting lost interpretation due to the late night hour. Latin American countries protested the procedure and conduct of the meeting.

Developing countries struggling with e-waste would benefit from good Basel ewaste guidelines,” said Tadesse Amera, Pesticide Action Nexus, Ethiopia. “But they do not want loopholes that allow dumping under the excuse of repair. We needed stronger measures, not a weakened treaty.

The EU pushed dangerous clean-up standards of 1000 ppm for three toxic flame retardant chemicals widely used in building insulation, upholstery and electronics (HBCD, PentaBDE, and OctaBDE). In contrast, the waste clean-up limit for PCBs and other substances already listed in the treaty is 50 ppm – 20 times lower than the EU proposal. For the first time, delegates settled on two options for HBCD (100 ppm or 1000 ppm) and two options for PentaBDE and OctaBDE (50 ppm or 1000 ppm). Although the EU pushed a weak standard that undermines the Stockholm Convention, China and Iran pushed for the more protective standards (50 ppm and 100 ppm) that are more consistent with the serious threats posed by POPs.

Say No to Recycling Toxic Chemicals into New Products

Toxic recycling contaminates our homes! STOP it now!

This post content is published by IPEN – a global network of public interest organizations working to eliminate toxic substances.

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African countries expressed deep concern regarding the EU proposal to recycle products containing toxic flame retardants into new products such as children’s toys, food containers and soft furnishings.

Geneva, 8 May 2015: The EU has pushed dangerous cleanup standards for three toxic flame retardant chemicals widely used in building insulation, upholstery and electronics (HBCD, PentaBDE, and OctaBDE) at a UN meeting of chemicals treaties in Geneva, Switzerland. All three toxic chemicals are listed in the Stockholm Convention for global elimination. They are ubiquitous in the environment globally and can disrupt human hormone systems, creating potential adverse effects on the development of the nervous system and children’s IQ.

African countries expressed deep concern regarding the EU proposal to recycle products containing toxic flame retardants into new products such as children’s toys, food containers and soft furnishings.

We do not want toxic chemicals recycled into toys for African children and we do not think EU children should be playing with them either,” said Tadesse Amera, PAN Ethiopia. “The EU already sends us ewaste and now it seems they want to increase our toxic burden.”

The EU proposal will allow toxic recycled products to be used by EU consumers and, then exported to developing countries as waste, transferring the toxic burden from richer countries to poor countries where the capacity to deal with contaminated waste is limited and where they will potentially add to health problems and hamper poverty reduction.

Ironically, the waste cleanup limit for PCBs and other substances already listed in the treaty is 20 times safer than the current EU proposal for flame retardants, despite the fact that they are all similarly toxic. Expert advisors to the EU noted that under the EU proposal, none of the current PentaBDE wastes would qualify for cleanup. The EU appears to be designing a standard to avoid cleanup actions on the world’s most toxic chemicals.

Jindrich Petrlik from Arnika Association said, “As an EU-based public interest NGO we find it shameful to see the EU violating the integrity of the Stockholm Convention, and putting economic interests before human health and the environment. This is poisoning the circular economy.”

Introduction to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

A GUIDE FOR PUBLIC INTEREST ORGANIZATIONS AND POLICY-MAKERS

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This @TheEndoSociety and @ToxicsFree guide is a joint effort to raise global awareness about EDCs.

To raise global awareness about endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) the Endocrine Society and IPEN have joined together to develop this EDC Guide documenting the threat endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose to human health.

Teams @TheEndoSociety and @ToxicsFree December 2014 guide draws from each organization’s strengths to present a more comprehensive picture of global EDC exposures and health risks than either could have done alone:

  • Endocrine Society authors contributed the scientific and health-related content
  • IPEN provides knowledge of global policies and perspectives from developing and transition countries
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IPEN 2014 EDCs Resource Guide

Endocrine Society and IPEN new resource on health threats posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals released on eve of international chemical safety meeting

New Resource on Health Threats Posed by Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals Released on Eve of International Chemical Safety Meeting

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In the run-up to the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management’s (SAICM’s) 2nd Open Ended Working Group (OEWG2) meeting that will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 14 – 17 December, Endocrine Society and IPEN have prepared a new resource on health threats posed by EDCs.

As governments, industry and public interest groups from across the globe prepare to meet next week to discuss endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)  and other international chemical safety issues, the Endocrine Society and IPEN have released a new EDC Guide documenting the threat endocrine disruptors pose to human health.

There is good reason to suspect that increasing chemical production and use is related to the growing incidence of endocrine-associated disorders over the past 20 years, including male reproductive problems, early female puberty, cancers and neurobehavioral disorders,” said Endocrine Society member Andrea C. Gore, PhD, the guide’s lead author. “Importantly, there is growing evidence that fetuses and children have a particular vulnerability to these chemicals. Introduction to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals was written to help policymakers and others better understand how these chemicals work and to assist them in making informed policy decisions.”

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Endocrine Society and IPEN new resource on health threats posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals released on eve of international chemical safety meeting.

EDCs and other chemicals will be one topic of discussion when policymakers and other stakeholders meet in Geneva, Switzerland Dec. 15-17 to discuss next steps on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global chemical safety policy framework. More than 100 countries are participating in the process organized mainly by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) with contributions from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Geneva next week, the international community will decide how to respond to regional recommendations and growing stakeholder concerns about EDCs. Some of our goals for the meeting include new initiatives to identify potential EDCs and safer alternatives including nonchemical alternatives, more awareness-raising about the hazards of EDCs, and steps toward translating research results into control actions,” said Olga Speranskaya, PhD and IPEN cochair.

In 2012, the international community adopted a consensus resolution that identified endocrine-disrupting chemicals as an emerging policy issue. Scientific studies have linked EDC exposure to rising rates of male birth defects, infertility, cancer, obesity and neurobehavioral disorders. Nearly every person has been exposed to EDCs, which are found in plastics, foods, pesticides, cosmetics, electronics and building materials.

Over the past year, more than 140 governments from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean recognized the special vulnerability of children during critical periods of development and declared the need for more awareness, information and monitoring of EDCs including in children’s products, pesticides, electronics, building materials and textiles. Governments also called for a list of potential EDCs and their associated health effects along with safer substitutes including non-chemical alternatives.

SAICM was adopted in 2006 by the international community to foster the sound management of chemicals with a goal of ensuring that, by the year 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on the environment and on human health.

Sources and more information

An introduction to Persistent Organic Pollutants POPs

Why they are harmful to human health and the environment

This short animation from IPEN – Working Together for a Toxics-Free Future – provides an introduction to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and why they are harmful to human health and the environment.

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IPEN : Working Together for a Toxics-Free Future

IPEN is working to establish and implement safe chemicals policies and practices that protect human health and the environment around the world

IPEN’s mission is a toxics-free future for all

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Click to download IPEN’s brochure

IPEN: toxic-fee is a global network of public interest organizations aiming to eliminate toxic substances.

IPEN is working to establish and implement safe chemicals policies and practices that protect human health and the environment around the world.

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