(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2007) A committee of experts advising the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has recommended adding endosulfan and tributyl tin compounds (TBT) to a list of substances that are considered so harmful they can only be traded in special circumstances. On March 27, 2007, the United Nations said that the toxic chemicals would only be allowed to be exported to countries that have explicitly chosen to permit them, a measure aimed at protecting humans and the environment in developing countries.
Endosulfan, a chemical sprayed onto food crops and cotton, and TBT, used in “antifouling paint” for ships’ hulls, are already banned in many countries. However, they may be traded freely in countries lacking tight environmental regulations. According to David Santillo who works at the research center for Greenpeace at Britain’s Exeter University, “It’s great that these two have been added to the list so countries have the choice whether to import them or not.”
Endosulfan has been linked with testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and defects in male sex organs. According to a recent study conducted in Costa Rica’s mountain forests, findings show that surprisingly high concentrations of pesticides are accumulating far above the low altitudes at which they are used, including endosulfan; it was one of the pesticides found in the largest concentrations at 3 ppb in soil. TBT impacts marine life, especially in harbors, and it also disrupts the hormone system. TBT is toxic to fish, molluscs and other organisms.
Chemicals that are already on the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent list include asbestos and the pesticides lindane and DDT. Governments have to approve the decision before it can come into force, something they are expected to do next year at a meeting of the Rotterdam Convention on trade in chemicals.
According to FAO, other chemicals on the list include the following pesticides: 2,4,5-T, aldrin, binapacryl, captafol, chlordane, chlordimeform, chlorobenzilate, DNOC and its salts, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB), dieldrin, dinoseb, fluoroacetamide, HCH, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mercury compounds, monocrotophos, parathion, pentachlorophenol and toxaphene, plus certain formulations of methamidophos, methyl-parathion, and phosphamidon, as well as dustable-powder formulations containing a combination of benomyl at or above 7 per cent, carbofuran at or above 10 per cent and thiram at or above 15 per cent. The list also includes the following industrial chemicals: five forms of asbestos (actinolite, anthophyllite, amosite, crocidolite and tremolite), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), polychlorinated terphenyls (PCT) tetraethyl lead, tetramethyl lead and tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate.