Chemical treaty covers nine additional pollutants.

AuthorBlock, Ben

An international treaty designed to eradicate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), some of the world's most harmful chemicals, was recently expanded to include nine additional pollutants.

Five of the pollutants are no longer in production and will be banned entirely. The other four chemicals--lindane, two forms of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and perfluorooctanyl sulfonate (PFOS)--will be phased out with various exemptions.

The nine chemicals are the only pollutants that have been added to the POPs treaty since a group of chemicals known as "the dirty dozen" was first banned in 2001. POPs are associated with various dysfunctions of the human endocrine, reproductive, and immune systems. Once released, the chemicals often travel globally via wind and water currents, contaminating local as well as remote regions.

Negotiators agreed to eliminate the use of lindane, already banned in at least 52 countries, as an agricultural pesticide. An exemption advocated by lindane-producing India, however, permits the chemical to be used to treat lice and scabies for at least five more years.

The flame retardants pentaBDE and octaBDE are no longer produced, but older cell phones, computers, and cars often contain them. Although the POPs treaty would ordinarily forbid POP-contaminated products from being recycled or reused, negotiators agreed that products containing 18 percent or less of the substances could be recycled until 2030.

Unlike the other eight POPs added to the treaty, PFOS is still produced in large volumes. China, Iran, the United States, and Brazil were among the...

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