Earlier this month, an unprecedented agreement was made during 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Stockholm Convention (SC) to add three toxic chemicals to the treaty while allowing loopholes for two of them, Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) and short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).
Recent studies conducted by IPEN, a global network of over 500 organizations committing to a toxic-free future, find both toxic chemicals in children’s toys. Due to their nature of being persistent, highly toxic, traveling long distances and building up in the food chain, the SC’s expert committee did not recommend a lot of the proposed exemptions. However, the COP8 agreed to include a long list of exemption clauses in the SC’s Annex A. They include exempting the production and use of commercial DecaBDE for certain vehicle parts such as global positioning systems, components of radio disks, automobile seats, etc. Regarding SCCPs, members also agreed on specific exemptions such as its production and use for transmission belts, lubricant additives, and secondary plasticizers in flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC), except in toys and children’s products.
Discussing the meeting’s implications, Dr. Olga Speranskaya, IPEN Co-Chair, was particularly concerned about the influence of the treaty’s amendments on developing countries, where customers are not well-informed due to the lack of labels. “Customers will unknowingly buy and expose their children to these chemicals because governments were not bold enough to demand that the industry labels them,” warned Dr. Speranskaya.
Another controversial decision made during the meeting include agreeing to allow recycling materials containing toxic flame retardants (PentaBDE and OctaBDE) found in furniture and e-waste, which would widely contaminate children’s products according to a new IPEN study.
Contrary to upholding the meeting’s theme, “A Future Detoxified,” IPEN Senior Advisor Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith mentioned delegates’ mockery that the meeting paved the way for “A Future Toxified,” by exposing workers, children’s toys and recycling streams to toxic chemicals.
Meeting: The eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (SC COP8)
Date/Location: April 24 – May 5, 2017; Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva, Switzerland
Written By: WIT Representation Jadice Lau
Edited By: Fred Yonghabi