Drive against hazardous chemicals begins today

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 23:

The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is going to be implemented from today, marking the start of an ambitious international effort to rid the world of PCBs, dioxins and furans, and nine highly dangerous pesticides, the UKnited National Environment Programme (UNEP) said today. POPs are the most dangerous pollutants released into environment every year by humans. For decades these highly toxic chemicals have killed and sickened people and animals by causing cancer and damaging the nervous, reproductive and immune systems.

"The implementation of Stockholm Convention will save lives and protect environment – particularly in the poorest communities and countries – by banning production and use of some of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind," an UNEP statement quoted its executive director, Klaus Toepfer, as saying. Much of the fund will be managed by the Global Environment Facility, which serves as the financial mechanism for the Convention on an interim basis.

The governments will start action against POPs when they meet for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP 1) in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in the first week of May, 2005. "They will fast-track efforts to reduce or eliminate the carcinogenic chemicals known as dioxins and furans, which are produced unintentionally as by-products of combustion", it said. Similarly it will support efforts by each national government to develop an implementation plan. In addition to banning the use of POPs, the treaty focuses on cleaning up growing accumulation of unwanted stockpiles of pesticides and toxic chemicals.