Five pesticides are included in the nine newly banned chemicals
May. 15, 2009
More than 160 government officials in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 9, 2009 determined that nine chemicals used in farming and industry will be added to a list of banned substances whose presence in the environment causes serious health risks. The nine pesticides and industrial chemicals join the "dirty dozen" -- 12 substances targeted for elimination under the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Although some of the chemicals trade in billions of dollars per year, countries at the United Nations conference agreed that alternatives must be found.
Donald Cooper, executive secretary of the Stockholm Convention, explained why the banned substances were exceptionally dangerous: They cross boundaries and are found everywhere, from tropical areas to polar regions; they persist for long periods in the atmosphere, soil, and water, and take years to degrade; they accumulate in bodies; and they accumulate in food chains. The chemicals can also damage reproduction, mental capacity, and growth, as well as cause cancer, Cooper said.
The pesticide Lindane is included among the nine newly banned substances. While Lindane has been replaced in agriculture, in some countries it is still used to tackle head lice and so will be phased out over five years instead of the standard one year.
The nine newly banned chemicals are listed as:
Lindane -- used in treatment of headlice and scabies, and in insecticides
Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane -- a by-product of lindane
Beta hexachlorocyclohexane -- a by-product of lindane
Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether -- used in flame retardants
Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether -- used in flame retardants
Chlordecone -- used in agricultural pesticides
Hexabromobiphenyl -- used in flame retardants
Pentachlorobenzene -- used in fungicides, flame retardants
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride -- used in electric and electronic parts, photo imaging, textiles
In some cases, the banned chemicals are no longer used and will have little economic impact -- the focus will be on managing and disposing of them. Where they are still widely traded, however, the bans will create business opportunities in the search for alternatives.
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