Persistent Poisons

Emily Marquez's picture

For quite some time, European policymakers have been working on a plan to regulate endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In the last few months, the process has sparked a furor among researchers and public health experts, with a heated battle of editorials raging in scientific journals that highlights clear conflicts of interest among those critiquing European action.

EDCs are compounds that alter the hormonal systems in an organism, and many of these chemicals are in widespread use. If the European Union (EU) regulates EDCs, it will be the first policy in the world that addresses the endocrine disruptor problem.

Medha Chandra's picture

Indigenous communities of Inuit Yup’ik living on the St. Lawrence Island of Alaska face a tough winter ahead. For over 20 years, the communities have suffered from unusually high burdens of cancers, miscarriages and other health complications due to their high exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Now the people of the island report a startlingly meager harvest of the walruses they rely on for food, as climate change shifts weather patterns and disrupts their traditional hunting practices. Our partners at Alaska Community Action on Toxics are raising emergency funds for these communities so we can all help them through the tough winter ahead.

Emily Marquez's picture

Right now, I'm sitting in a room at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, located in Rome, Italy. Though I get to walk by the Coliseum every morning on the way to the FAO building, I don't leave the building until well after the sun has set.

I'm representing PAN at the Stockholm Convention's Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC), and learning a great deal about the scientific review of new POPs that's part of the global chemicals treaty process.

Medha Chandra's picture

September was a good month for wins against hazardous pesticides. China took steps to end the use of the persistent pesticide endosulfan — as did Mexico, which will ban it fully by January 2015. Costa Rica announced it will stop using the ozone-depleting pesticide methyl bromide. And El Salvador banned a host of pesticides in one fell swoop.

Many PAN partners and allies were involved in campaigns against these pesticides, and these health-protective actions from around the world are inspiring us in the U.S. to keep up the good fight.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Last Saturday in Geneva, endosulfan was officially listed under the global Rotterdam Convention "to huge applause from conference delegates and observers," according to scientist Meriel Watts of PAN Asia-Pacific, who attended the meeting.

The decision marks a victorious end to PAN's multi-year, international effort to add the insecticide on the Convention's "prior informed consent" list, which requires that countries importing a chemical be informed if that chemical has been banned in other countries. Earlier this year, endosulfan was added to the Stockholm Convention list of persistent chemicals to be phased out globally. This additional listing in the Rotterdam Convention is likely to speed the demise of endosulfan's production and trade worldwide.