New Chemicals Recommended for Listing Under the Rotterdam Convention

Geneva, 19 March 2010 - United Nations chemical experts have recommended that two pesticides - endosulfan and azinphos methyl - be included in the Rotterdam Convention's "Prior Informed Consent" procedure.

The Convention's Chemical Review Committee based its recommendation on a review of national regulatory actions to ban these chemicals, due to unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.

The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure provides an early warning system that empowers countries to take informed decisions whether or not to import hazardous chemicals, in order to minimize the risks posed to human health and the environment. At present there are a total of 29 pesticides and 11 industrial chemicals subject to the PIC procedure.

Endosulfan

Endosulfan is an organochlorine insecticide and acaricide used in crops worldwide. It is mainly used on cotton, coffee and tea. Endosulfan is a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and can act as an endocrine disruptor, causing reproductive and developmental damage in both animals and humans.

The Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention has considered notifications to ban or severely restrict endosulfan from 16 countries: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Senegal and Thailand, and the European Union.

The Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention adopted a risk profile on endosulfan at its fifth meeting (12-16 October 2009) and currently is developing a draft risk management evaluation which will be considered at its next meeting in October 2010.

As the result of the review of notifications received from eight African countries and the European Union, the Committee concluded that the criteria has been met and agreed to a decision guidance document for endosulfan drafted and approved by the Rotterdam Convention's Chemical Review Committee and will forward the recommendation to list endosulfan in Annex III to the Convention to Conference of the Parties for consideration at its fifth meeting in June 2011.

Chemicals listed in Annex III trigger a request to all Parties that they take a decision as to whether they will allow future import of the chemical.

Azinphos-methyl

The Chemicals Review Committee considered notifications on azinphos-methyl received from two countries. Azinphos-methyl is a broad spectrum organophosphate insecticide. It is a neurotoxin derived from nerve agents developed during World War II which is mainly used on different crops of vegetables and on several kinds of fruit trees.

The Chemical Review Committee considered azinphos-methyl for inclusion in Annex III. As the result of the review of notifications, the Committee concluded that the criteria for inclusion of the pesticide have been met. It further agreed to prepare a draft decision guidance document for the substance.

The recommendation to include these two pesticides in the PIC procedure will be forwarded to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention in June 2011.

Additional

Many pesticides, that have been banned or severely restricted for use in industrialized countries, are still traded and used in developing countries. Such pesticides are often sold to farmers who lack the equipment and knowledge to use them safely, resulting in large numbers of injuries and even deaths.

Similarly industrial chemicals, such as lead additives to boost octane levels in gasoline, are still used in certain regions of the world, resulting in a build up of lead in the environment and adverse health impacts on their populations, especially the intellectual development of children. Likewise, asbestos, with its proven health impacts is still being produced and used widely.

Jointly supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Rotterdam Convention prevents unwanted trade in the chemicals included in its legally binding prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The Rotterdam Convention does not introduce bans but is an information exchange mechanism to help improve decision making about the trade of hazardous chemicals. It enables member Governments to alert each other to potential dangers by exchanging information on chemicals and to take informed decisions with regard to whether they want to import such chemicals in the future.

The Convention makes the international trade in hazardous chemicals more transparent and less vulnerable to abuse through its export notification provisions, and by encouraging harmonized labeling of chemicals. Exporting member Governments are responsible for ensuring that no exports leave their territory when an importing country has made the decision not to accept a PIC chemical.

In this way, the Rotterdam Convention helps member Governments to improve their national capacity for chemicals management, avoid environmental and health tragedies and minimize clean-up costs. It also encourages the chemicals industry to identify and promote safer alternatives.

For more information, please see www.pic.int.

Notes to Editors:

The chemicals on the Rotterdam Convention's PIC list includes the following 29 hazardous pesticides: 2,4,5-T, aldrin, binapacryl, captafol, chlordane, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, DDT, DNOC and its salts, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), dieldrin, dinoseb, fluoroacetamide, HCH, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, mercury compounds, monocrotophos, parathion, pentachlorophenol, toxaphene and tributyl tin, plus certain formulations of methamidophos, methyl-parathion, and phosphamidon, as well as dustable-powder formulations containing a combination of benomyl at or above 7 per cent, carbofuran at or above 10 per cent and thiram at or above 15 per cent.

The Convention also covers eleven industrial chemicals: five forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite and tremolite), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated terphenyls (PCT) tetraethyl lead, tetramethyl lead and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate.

For further information, please contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, +254-20-762-3084, (m) +254 733 632755, e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org; Or Erwin Northoff, FAO Media Relations Officer, +39-06-5705-3105, e-mail: erwin.northoff@fao.org; Or Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Focal Point/Public Information Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, +41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495, e-mail: msjones@pops.int


 

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