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).
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.
China has joined the global effort to eliminate endosulfan. This is very good — and very big — news, since China is both a large user and major producer of this harmful, longlasting pesticide.
"We are glad that China's leadership has taken the right steps in protecting its citizens," says Dou Hong of Pesticide Eco-Alternative Center (PEAC), a PAN partner group in the Yunnan province. The 12th National People's Congress agreed to eliminate China's production and use of endosulfan in late August, when it ratified a global treaty amendment requiring the ban.
PAN and our partners have been on the ground in Geneva this week, participating in the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC8)
Here at this annual gathering of scientists and policymakers from around the world, chemicals are considered for addition to the Stockholm Convention. This international treaty bans or restricts use of chemicals deemed to be "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs) due to their harmful impacts on health and their long-lasting presence in the environment.
A recent study from Sweden shows that background exposure — or long-term, low dose exposure — to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) may play an important role in the development or progression of stroke in the elderly.
Research has shown that exposure to POPs can lead to such chronic health problems as diabetes, obesity and hardening of the arteries leading to cardiovascular trouble. The recent Swedish study adds to this litany of human health harms.
Lice shampoos containing lindane continue to be allowed in the U.S., despite being slated for a global ban due to the organochlorine pesticide's persistence and toxicity. Last week, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) urged the Obama Administration to pull these products from the U.S. market once and for all.
In 2009, more than 160 nations agreed to ban the agricultural uses of lindane, and to phase out pharmaceutical uses around the world by 2014. Lindane shampoos and lotions have been banned in California since 2002, and several other states have moved to severely restrict the use of these products.
The "obesity epidemic" is constantly in the news. This year's CDC figures show that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum. Childhood cancers and neurodevelopmental delays are on the rise.
Scientific studies show that many of these health conditions can be linked to exposures to environmental contaminants such as pesticides, and new research is finding that exposures occurring as far back as three generations can cause adverse health conditions today.
Researchers in Sweden have confirmed that exposure to pesticides classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) increases the incidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Known to be a “major risk factor” for heart attacks and strokes, atherosclerosis is one of many health threats posed by POPs pesticides, which can persist in the environment for years or decades after use. In fact, this study comes on the heels of several others in recent years that show a correlation between POPs and health harms associated with poor heart health, such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.
Get your kids to exercise, eat right, and control their portions — these steps can help combat childhood obesity, we're told. But new research on persistent chemicals points to the fact that as parents, we're not getting the whole story.
Researchers in Spain found that whether a child, especially a girl, will be obese is not just dependent on lifestyle choices, but also on the child’s exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) before birth. As a mother of a 4-year-old daughter, this worries me tremendously.
Tracey Brieger, Californians for Pesticide Reform, 415-215-5473
Heather Pilatic, Pesticide Action Network, 415-694-8596
June 2, 2011
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