POPS

Kristin Schafer's picture

I couldn't bring 9-month-old Connor with me when I attended my first POPs treaty meeting in Bonn, so I brought my breastmilk pump instead. I vividly remember struggling with my rusty German to convince the women in the conference center kitchen to store my milk in the deep freeze.

As a nursing mother, participating in the POPs treaty meetings took on a very personal dimension. Here's why: persistent chemicals build up in food chains across the globe, and this is a key reason the treaty exists. Human milk — nature's perfect food for infants — is at the very top of the food chain. This is why POPs show up so often in breastmilk.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Pesticide companies in India are pulling out all the stops to keep endosulfan on the market. As nations of the world prepare to gather next month to decide on a global ban of this neurotoxic pesticide, endosulfan's makers have launched an aggressive campaign to protect their product.

Our PAN partners in India are fed up, and have asked for our help in countering corporate influence on India's official stance on endosulfan. Please add your voice to the global effort to press the Indian government to put public health before industry profits.

Pesticide Action Network's picture

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are bad news. These chemicals are highly toxic, travel long distances on wind and water currents, and accumulate in the environment, up the food chain and in the bodies of animals and people. More bad news — climate change is making the impact of POPs worse. A recently released U.N. report, “Climate Change and POPs: Predicting the Impacts,” says that releases of POPs trapped in soil, water and ice will increase due to rising global temperatures. One example: glaciers melting faster means more of the POPs trapped in those glaciers are being re-released more quickly. 

Karl Tupper's picture

When DDT was introduced more than 60 years ago, it initially scored victory after victory in the fight against malaria — nearly eliminating the deadly disease in many areas. But these wins were mostly short-lived, as mosquitoes rapidly developed resistance to the chemical. Today, its effectiveness is a fraction of what it once was; meanwhile an arsenal of better and safer anti-malaria interventions has been developed, including effective chemical-free strategies.

And so, under the auspices of the Stockholm Convention, the nations of the world have committed to phasing out DDT, while allowing it to be used in the short-term in those few places where it's still effective and other methods of malaria control are unavailable. This is an approach PAN enthusiastically supports.

Karl Tupper's picture

Two studies came out in the last couple of weeks that really illustrate the problems associated with "PBT" chemicals: those which are simultaneously persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Persistent substances resist degradation — you can move them around but it's really hard to get rid of them. Bioaccumulation happens when chemicals in food, water, and air end up getting stored in the body of a living thing. Thus, for a bass living in a mercury polluted lake, the mercury levels in the fish may be thousands of times higher than the levels in the water. A cow grazing on PCB-laced feed will store the chemical in her body and excrete it in her milk, and humans too act as sinks for all kinds of chemicals.