International Actions to Eliminate the World’s Most Dangerous Chemicals: Update from the Stockholm Convention

May 25, 2011 @ 9:00am (AKDT)

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is a global treaty created a decade ago to remove known and potential persistent organic pollutants from worldwide use. Beginning with banning twelve chemicals known as the “deadly dozen,” parties to the convention meet every two years in Geneva, Switzerland to decide which additional dangerous chemicals should be banned and whether exemptions should be made for “acceptable uses” of banned chemicals.

Please join us to hear firsthand from representatives of Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) and the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) who were in Geneva for the Fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) at the end of April.

Featured presenters Joe DiGangi (IPEN), Vi Waghiyi (ACAT) and Pam Miller (ACAT) will discuss highlights and outcomes of the weeklong international meeting,  including:

  • The decision to ban endosulfan, an antiquated insecticide that has been linked to birth defects, mental retardations, and deaths in farmworkers, and — like DDT — travels on wind and ocean currents to the Arctic where it contaminates the environment and traditional foods. Find out how more than 700 nongovernmental organizations worked to achieve the ban and what happens next now that the nations of the world have agreed to phase out endosulfan.
  • Results of a new study showing banned chemicals in recycled carpet padding and how current exemptions and loopholes in the Stockholm Convention allow for banned chemicals to be used in new consumer products.
  • Actions by the Indigenous People’s delegation: The Stockholm Convention’s Preamble acknowledges that Arctic ecosystems and Indigenous communities are particularly at risk because of the biomagnification of POPs in the north and that contamination of their traditional foods is a public health issue. Find out how Indigenous peoples are working to make certain that participating nations uphold their commitment to the rights of Indigenous peoples.
  • Climate change and persistent organic pollutants: Scientists at the meeting warned that the affect of climate change and climate variability on the release, distribution, and degradation of persistent chemicals into the environment have the potential to increase POPs contamination leading to higher health risks for both human populations and the environment.

Featured speakers

Joe DiGangi, science and policy advisor for theInternational POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) He represents IPEN on scientific technical working groups of the Stockholm Convention and coordinates IPEN engagement in global and regional meetings addressing implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).  Currently DiGangi represents the public interest NGO sector on the SAICM Bureau. DiGangi holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California-Irvine.

Pam Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Pam serves as principal investigator of a research team that includes faculty from five universities and collaborates with Alaska tribes to address environmental health and justice issues in the Arctic and sub-Arctic. Pam is one of the world’s foremost experts on the toxic pesticide lindane, serving the U.N. and the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation to address international concerns about lindane. She regularly attends Stockholm Convention Conference of Parties and POPs Review Committee meetings. Pam holds a master’s degree in environmental science from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

Vi Waghiyi, Environmental Health and Justice Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics. Vi is a bilingual Yupik Eskimo from Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Since Vi joined ACAT in 2002 she has worked closely with villages on St. Lawrence Island and in the Norton Sound region of Alaska where military waste continues to contaminate fish, wildlife, and people and where persistent organic pollutants from around the world are accumulating in the Arctic food web and in traditional foods. Vi works with researchers, community health aides, and tribal leaders to protect environmental health and assure justice. Vi attended the Fourth Conference of Parties in 2009 and the Fifth Conference of Parties in 2011 and is frequently sought out to speak at national and international meetings about ACAT’s environmental health and justice work.

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