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A Toxics-Free Future

Highlights Front Roll

Good Governance Vital for Sustainable Waste Management
PPG Industries will phase out lead from all paints by 2020
Mercury Contaminated Sites: The Urgent Need for Global Guidance
Press Conference Reveals High Lead Levels Found in Majority of Malaysian Paint Brands
Precautionary Approach Critical on Waste Containing Nanomaterials

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(Geneva) – In today’s Declaration on Waste Containing Nanomaterials, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ECOS, and the Oeko-Institut emphasize the importance of adopting and implementing preventive measures to protect people and the environment from possible hazards of manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) in waste streams. With the toxicity of nanomaterials still largely unknown, a tight control of waste containing MNMs is crucial.

IPEN Participating Organization Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH) recently organized a seminar entitled "Good Governance in Sustainable Waste Management: the case of Chiang Rak Yai Waste-to-Energy Project" in collaboration with Puey Ungphakorn School of Development Studies and the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology.

We, Co-Chairs of the global NGO network of IPEN, express our deep concern over human injustice happening around the world. Too often violent conflicts over natural resources target environmental activists for harm. These conflicts include land grabbing, illegal logging, devastating mining, overuse and contamination of water resources, international investments violating local laws, and many other activities with the potential to irreversibly change the life of people and communities. 

Two murders happened in Honduras in March this year, taking the lives of two amazing individuals fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples to live in a protected and healthy environment. 

On March 2nd, Berta Cáceres, one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras, a coordinator of the organisation COPINH and a Goldman 2015 Prize Winner, was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Honduras. Berta won the Goldman Prize in 2015 for her successful fight against the world’s largest dam builder, and in defense of the rights of indigenous peoples of Honduras. Her powerful speech at the Goldman Prize ceremony inspires us all. 

Two weeks later Nelson García, another member of COPINH, was murdered when he helped a group of poor families resist a land grab in the small town of Rio Lindo in Honduras. Both murders happened as a result of the violation of the right of free speech for activists defending the livelihoods of people. 

To: FMO, Finnfund, Central American Bank for Economic Integration CABEI

The undersigned organisations welcome the announcement of FMO on March 16 [1] that it will suspend all its activities in Honduras, including further disbursements on the loan for the Agua Zarca project, following the brutal murder of Nelson Garcia, member of COPINH.

(Penang, Malaysia) More than sixty percent of paint brands analyzed in a new study on total lead in solvent-based decorative paints contained high lead levels, and at least one paint from most brands contained exceedingly high lead levels. The findings are included in a report released today by the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and IPEN. Moreover, consumer information about lead content was missing from most paint can labels, and a number of brands falsely advertised themselves as “low lead.”

“The health impacts of lead exposure on young children’s brains are lifelong, irreversible and untreatable,” said S.M. Mohamed Idris, President of CAP. “We are limiting our children and our nation’s future intellectual development even though safe and effective alternatives are already in use and widely available in Malaysia. We must reduce this critical source of lead exposure to young children.”

(Bangkok, Thailand) On January 29, 2016, Thailand issued compulsory legislation controlling the amount of lead and other heavy metals in enamel paints, effective January 2017. According to this national decree, all enamel paints used for construction and decorative purposes which are manufactured or sold in Thailand must meet the following requirements:

  • No more than 0.01% lead, mercury and cadmium (dry weight)
  • No more than 0.1% hexavalent chromium (dry weight)

In addition, all alkyd enamel paints manufactured or sold in Thailand will be required to show a warning label about potential dangers from the product, for example, “contains toxic substance” or “keep away from children.”

The effort to regulate lead in paint in Thailand has been led by the Thai NGO, Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH) as a part of IPEN’s Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.

Delay dishonours victims of the Minamata tragedy

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(Dead Sea, Jordan) At the 7th meeting of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a small group of developed countries opposed prompt creation of guidelines to manage toxic mercury-contaminated sites. Proponents of action expressed concerns over local harm and mercury’s wide ranging impacts as a global pollutant. Fifty-four countries in Africa, 55 countries in Asia-Pacific, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America pushed for action. However, the EU blocked consensus on prompt development of guidelines, ensuring years of delay and continuing mercury pollution. 

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