Launch of clearing house mechanism for information exchange
on persistent organic pollutants - www.pops.int
19 May 2008
Information on toxic chemicals including DDT and PCBs to be shared globally
Geneva, Switzerland, 19 May 2008 – The Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants today launches its new clearing house mechanism for exchange of information on persistent organic pollutants including sound measures and valuable experiences in implementing the Convention.
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) targets 12 hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals that can cause cancer, damage the nervous and immune systems, reproductive disorders and interfere with normal infant and child development. Similar effects are seen in wildlife.
Every human in the world carries traces of POPs in his or her body. POPs circulate globally through a process known as the "grasshopper effect". POPs released in one part of the world can, through a repeated process of evaporation and deposit, be transported through the atmosphere to regions far away from the original source.
The POPs clearing house mechanism will help countries and other stakeholders to make better decisions about how to reduce or eliminate the release of these highly dangerous chemicals into the environment. It does this by empowering its users with the means to contribute and access up-to-date information in a transparent, neutral, efficient and user friendly manner.
The clearing house contains information on the initial POPs covered by the Convention: nine pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex and toxaphene); two industrial chemicals (PCBs as well as hexachlorobenzene, also used as a pesticide); and unintentional by-products, most importantly dioxins and furans. It also includes information on eleven other chemicals currently under consideration by the POPs Review Committee for possible addition to the Stockholm Convention.
A special section of the clearing house will be devoted to information on DDT and alternatives to its use in controlling malaria and other disease vectors.
Another section will include information generated through the global monitoring plan of the Stockholm Convention, on levels of POPs present in the environment, which is used to determining the effectiveness of the Convention in meeting its goal of protecting human health and the environment from POPs.
In a second phase the clearing house mechanism will consolidate a global network of information providers, users and institutions, having the common needs of sharing information and expertise on POPs. The objective is to involve a critical mass of members in the network and to expand progressively the network membership across countries, regions, and institutions, including intergovernmental and non- governmental organizations and cross-sectoral thematic focal points.
It is expected that other environmental treaties will profit from and contribute to the mechanism which will contribute to enhanced cooperation and coordination among them and improve our overall understanding of environmental impacts of human activities.
In the near future the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention will look into the role of the POPs clearing house mechanism at the national and regional levels and ways of promoting information exchange synergies with the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
The clearing house is a tool that will increase humanity’s collective knowledge of the risks posed by POPs and the means to address them. Present and future generations will be the beneficiaries.
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