16 June 2011

Philippines Urged to Back Inclusion of Toxic Chemicals in Trade "Watch List"

Environmental health and justice advocates urged the Philippines to support the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos and six other “nasty” chemicals on an international trade “watch list”

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) pressed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the designated national authority for the Rotterdam Convention, to make a strong presence at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from June 20 to 24.

“We appeal to our delegation at COP5 of the Rotterdam Convention to actively push for the listing of chrysotile asbestos and six other nasty chemicals that are known to pose unacceptable risk to public health and the environment in the treaty’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure,” said Manny Calonzo, who represented both the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA in the two successive technical working group (TWG) meetings convened by the DENR.

The other chemicals being recommended by the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee for inclusion in the “watch list” are endosulfan, azinphos methyl, gramaxone super, perfluorooctane sulfonate, pentabrominated diphenyl ether and octabrominated diphenyl ether.

“The inclusion of these chemicals in the ‘watch list’ will improve the national capacity to manage such chemicals, some of which are already targeted for global elimination, by exchanging information with other governments and by taking informed decisions whether to allow or deny the importation,” Calonzo added.

Under the Convention, a government of an exporting country is responsible for ensuring that no exports leave their jurisdiction when an importing country has made the decision not to accept chemicals on the "watch list."
Also, the exporting country will be required to notify the importing country about the hazards of such chemicals being traded and their proper handling to reduce health and environmental risks.

The recommendations to include the said chemicals are based on a review of national regulatory actions taken by concerned parties to the Rotterdam Convention.
During the last TWG held on June 14, environmental, health and labor agencies, along with environmental and trade union groups, presented the various arguments for the inclusion of chrysotile asbsestos in the PIC list.

According to a submission signed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, “exposure to chrysotile asbestos increases the risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma in a dose-dependent manner.”

Among other recommendations, health authorities propose the elimination of asbestos use, the adoption of preventive and safety measures in the removal of asbestos-containing materials and the formulation of technical and economic guidelines in the selection of safer substitutes to asbestos, including a comprehensive health and safety evaluation.
-end-

Reference:

Overview of the Rotterdam Convention:
http://www.pic.int/home.php?type=t&id=5&sid=16

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