As delegates prepare for the first Conference of Parties (COP-1) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), next week in Uruguay, WWF, the global conservation organization, today released a list of 20 chemicals that it recommends be added to the treaty.

WWF's list of recommended chemicals includes the pesticides chlordecone and endosulfan, several brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds known as PFOS and PFOA. Perfluorinated compounds are used in the production of textiles, food packaging and non-stick coatings, while brominated flame retardants are used in fabrics, TVs, and other products.

"Many of these chemicals are used in everyday products such as packaging and furniture and they all are contaminating our environment. The sooner they are phased out, the safer we will all be," said Clifton Curtis, Director of WWF's Global Toxics Programme.

The Stockholm Convention is an international treaty that eliminates or severely restricts production and use of 12 of the world's most hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals, including DDT, mirex, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins.

Envisioned by the international community to be a dynamic, living treaty that responds to current realities, the Stockholm Convention provides a rigorous scientific process through which new chemicals that meet the POPs criteria can be added to the treaty.

"The adding mechanism is a key element of the Stockholm Convention, and governments should not hesitate to act when there is convincing evidence of a chemical's threat to wildlife and human health," added Clifton Curtis. "At the same time, developed countries need to ensure adequate financial and technical resources to enable developing countries to meet their obligations under the Convention, including those related to adding new chemicals."

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) share four characteristics: they are toxic; they are persistent, resisting normal processes that break down contaminants; they accumulate in the body fat of people and animals and are passed from mother to foetus; and they can travel great distances on wind and water currents.

The Stockholm Convention entered into force in May 2004 and has been ratified by 97 countries. The first Conference of Parties will be held from May 2-6 in Punta del Este, Uruguay, at which more than 120 governments and about 600 delegates will be in attendance.


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