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Policy

Chemicals Added To Rotterdam Treaty

by Cheryl Hogue
May 20, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 20

Two flame retardants, a family of eight-carbon perfluorinated substances, and an organophosphate pesticide are new additions to a treaty that requires exchange of information between exporting and importing countries. At a United Nations meeting that ended on May 10, governments agreed to add these compounds to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals & Pesticides in International Trade. The move means that any country that exports these compounds must inform importing countries that the substances are banned or severely restricted elsewhere in the world. Affected chemicals include pentabromodiphenyl ether and octabromodiphenyl ether, which are flame retardants that published laboratory studies link to neurobehavioral effects and disruption of thyroid hormones. Also added to the treaty are perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and its cousins perfluoro­octane sulfones, perfluorooctane sulfonamides, and perfluorooctane sulfonyls. PFOS is widespread in the environment and is a degradation product of perfluorooctane sulfonamide derivatives. Azinphos-methyl, an insecticide that can cause nerve damage, rounds out the added chemicals.

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