Stricter trade measures recommended for hazardous industrial chemical PFOA


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Rome, Italy, and Geneva, Switzerland: 10 October 2019 - UN experts have recommended stricter, legally-binding measures for information exchange concerning trade in the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds, widely used in domestic non-stick cooking ware and food-processing appliances, textiles, paper and paints, and firefighting foams. PFOA is known to be toxic to humans and the environment with links to major health issues such as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

With a goal of protecting human health and environment by assisting governments to make informed decisions concerning trade in pesticides and industrial chemicals, the UN Rotterdam Convention’s Chemicals Review Committee (CRC) held its 15th meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, from 8 to 10 October 2019. Chemicals experts from all the UN regions attended the meeting together with representatives from government, civil society and industry. 

PFOA was included earlier this year for elimination in Annex A to the UN Stockholm Convention, and should there be a complimentary listing in Annex III by the Rotterdam Convention when its governing body meets in 2021 this would imply more information would be available for countries wishing to still use PFOA. It would also put in place a legally-binding, structured information exchange procedure based on prior informed consent to trade. This would enable importing countries to be more informed, to soundly manage the chemical and to lower the risk of harmful impacts on health and the environment.

The experts at the CRC meeting also reviewed three additional chemicals, namely: the pesticide amitrole; the industrial chemical decabromodiphenyl ether; and nonylphenols and Nonylphenol ethoxylates (pesticide and industrial chemical). Of these, the Committee decided to recommend that the governing body of the Convention (the Conference of the Parties or ‘COP’) list decabromodiphenyl ether in Annex III. The CRC will now prepare a detailed decision guidance document to accompany its recommendation to the COP.

The work of the Chemicals Review Committee provides an important contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG12, which refers in its targets to the sound management of chemicals and waste” said Mr. Hans Dreyer, Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention (FAO), who also commended the work of the 31 international experts of the Committee. 

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