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Chemicals face global restrictions

November 20, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 47

An international scientific committee has moved five compounds a step closer to joining the initial list of a dozen toxic chemicals targeted for reduction or elimination under the United Nation's Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Meeting in Geneva on Nov. 6-10, the POPs Review Committee finalized draft risk profiles—the second step in the approval process—for pentafluorooctane sulfonate, pentabromodiphenyl ether, chlordecone, hexabromobiphenyl, and lindane. The committee must now determine whether global action is required and, if so, whether each chemical should be banned or restricted, as well as whether any specific exemptions should be permitted. The committee's final conclusions, which it will take two or three years to develop, will be forwarded to the convention's member governments for a formal decision. The review panel, composed of scientists from 31 countries, also took the first step toward adding five more chemicals to the POPs list by agreeing to prepare draft risk profiles for the substances. The newly proposed chemicals are α-hexachlorocyclohexane, b-hexachlorocyclohexane, pentachlorobenzene, octabromodiphenyl ether, and short-chain chlorinated paraffins. The POPs treaty entered into force in May 2004 and currently has 134 parties. The U.S. attended the meeting as an observer, because it has signed but not yet ratified the accord.


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