at least 120 countries have agreed to become signatories to a un treaty banning or restricting the use of 12 toxic chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants ( pop s). The treaty, known as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, was signed on May 23, 2001, and will become legally binding once it has been ratified by at least 50 countries. The treaty was finalised in Johannesburg in December 2000 (see 'Playing safe', Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 16, January 15).
"This is the first step taken on an international level. Until now, all efforts have been conducted on a national or European Union level," said Anette Toernqvist, Swedish environment ministry spokesperson. The chemicals include eight pesticides, two industrial compounds and two byproducts of combustion and industrial processes. The convention will immediately ban most of the chemicals although an exemption has been granted to ddt , which is still needed by developing countries to combat malaria. These countries will be allowed to use ddt till they find cheaper and ecofriendly alternatives.
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