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Heal Toxics is a member of the International POPs Elimination Network

This website provides resources on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as pesticides, dioxins, PCBs, and wastes. Valuable examples of community monitoring of health and environmental impacts of toxic chemicals are also furnished.

Further, there is an entire section devoted to chemical safety in its proper socio-political context or in relation to issues such as globalization and people's empowerment.


U.N. experts plan attack on toxic PCBs

by Alexander Higgins, Associated Press

GENEVA -- Dozens of experts armed with a new global treaty began Thursday to plan a decades-long assault on PCBs, one of the most widespread and difficult to eradicate chemical pollutants.

Billions of dollars will be spent globally "to make the world PCB-free by the year 2028" under the treaty that went into force last month, said James B. Willis, director of the chemicals unit at the U.N. Environment Program.

PCBs - polychlorinated biphenyls - which have been extensively used in the United States and elsewhere for transformers and other electrical equipment, have been scattered through the environment through leakage, accidents and careless disposal, the agency said.

Production of the chemicals is banned, but they are still in use in a wide array of electrical equipment, it said. Replacing the equipment and removing the pollution from the environment will take years.

The most common way of disposing of them is through high-temperature incinerators, which are expensive to run, officials said. Other methods also are being developed.PCBs are among "the most widespread of all environmental pollutants, found worldwide in air, water, soil, food and the fatty tissues of humans and animals," the agency said.

They can cause health problems, including weakened immunity, and possibly cancer, it added.

Some 200 representatives of government, agencies and companies are taking part in the two-day meeting to discuss needs and plan for disposal.

PCBs are one of several toxic chemicals covered by the treaty known as the Stockholm Convention that went into force May 17. The list of pollutants also includes DDT, dioxin and pesticides.

Some 65 countries have already ratified the accord, and about 100 more have signed it. The United States is among the signers, but the Senate has yet to ratify the treaty even though President Bush has given it his strong backing.

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