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Selection of international news - 6

PRAHA/WORLD - 14 August 2014

Residents of Armenian village oppose construction of an open mine 

Over 200 residents of Gndevaz village, Armenia, signed a letter of complaint to the IFC Ombudsman's office (IFW is a member of World Bank Group) demanding to stop the funding of Amulsar open pit mining project (implemented by Geoteam Copany) and the construction of a heap leach facility. The villagers point out unclear decision making and possible hazard of the mine. In their letter they write: „During Amulsar mine development the explosions will result in spreading the dust of heavy metals over the lands, pastures and fields of the village, as well as over the residential area of the village. As independent experts assure, the radioactive background will also boost… We are demanding from IFC to stop the funding of this illegal project, as it poses great hazards for the population of Gndevaz. We are demanding to take our opinion into consideration and not to violate our rights.“

Full letter in English: http://ecolur.org/en/news/mining/sensational-statement-over-200-gndevaz-villagers-demanding-to-stop-amulsar-project/6458/

Video promoting awareness on chemicals in products

EUCHemicals released a video promoting benefits of REACH, as well as the consumer's right to know about hazardous chemicals contained in products they purchase. The footage shows a man scanning the aisles of a supermarket. At the checkout he is presented with a long receipt, which contains names of substances in the products he has purchased. You can watch the video online in 23 languages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSWIAEDJfSg

The video raised attention of chemical industry: “It is unbalanced, alarmist and implies all products contain dangerous chemicals. It also signally fails to acknowledge any benefits of chemicals, or recognise any aspects of the EU consumer protection legislative controls effectively limiting exposure,” says Peter Newport, CEO of the CBA.

More in English: http://chemicalwatch.com/20439/echa-consumer-rights-video-alarmist-says-industry-association#.U9afcQLSpDg.facebook

Saicm identifies 12 elements of sound chemicals management

Countries participating in regional meetings of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have identified 12 “basic elements” that are required to achieve sound chemicals management at national level. The activities may provide a focus for countries, as they work towards the 2020 goal of minimising the adverse effects of chemicals on health and the environment. The elements are: legal frameworks that manage the lifecycle of chemicals; enforcement and compliance mechanisms; implementation of existing international chemicals conventions; strong institutional systems, including engagement, coordination and co-operation among all relevant actors; collection, management and sharing of data and information, relevant to the sound management of chemicals among all relevant stakeholders; industry participation and responsibility; implementation of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labelling of chemicals; inclusion of chemicals in national development plans – also known as mainstreaming; chemical risk assessment through use of best practices; systems for sharing information, including hazard, risk, occupational health, research and monitoring, and training; capacity to deal with poisonings and other chemicals incidents; and monitoring of the impacts of chemicals on health and the environment.

The 12 basic elements are included in a document covering overall orientation, guidance and recommendations, which has been compiled ahead of ICCM4, along with a second report on progress in Saicm implementation from 2011-13.

More in English:  http://chemicalwatch.com/20648/saicm-identifies-12-elements-of-sound-chemicals-management

New system to detect mercury in water systems

A new ultra-sensitive, low-cost and portable system for detecting mercury in environmental water has been developed by University of Adelaide researchers. "There are current systems capable of monitoring mercury at trace levels, but they are huge machines that can't be easily moved, are very expensive and complicated to use and require comprehensive training. Samples also require chemical treatment before analysis… "Our system is very cost-competitive, only as big as a mobile phone and easy to use. With very basic training, someone could take it to a river or lake and do a mercury reading on the spot" says Dr. Abel Santos from the research team. A range of tests have shown the sensor can detect mercury at levels of 200 parts per billion in a complex mixture of other metal ions and environmental samples. Continued work will seek to enhance the optical signals for even higher sensitivity.

More in English: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news71882.html

Swiss NGO finds 175 chemicals of concern in food packaging

A total of 175 chemicals with known hazardous properties are legally used in food packaging in the EU and the US, a study conducted by members of Swiss NGO the Food Packaging Forum has found. The researchers warn of a gap between the assessment of potentially hazardous chemicals under REACH and their regulation in food contact materials (FCMs). The study compared two lists of concern, NGO ChemSec's Substitute it Now (Sin) list (CW 11 April 2014) and the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) list, with three food contact material (FCM) databases: the ESCO working group list on non-plastic FCMs; the EU plastics Regulation union list of chemicals allowed for the production of FCMs; and the US food additive list by the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew list). Some 175 chemicals that appear on the SIN list and/or TEDX list are also on at least one of the three FCM databases. A majority of the chemicals found fulfil the official REACH criteria for substances of very high concern (SVHC). The authors warn that the REACH process for phasing out SVHCs does not directly affect chemicals used in the manufacture of FCMs, because they are regulated separately. “As a consequence, chemicals with highly toxic properties may legally be used in the production of food contact materials, but not in other consumer products such as computers, textiles and paints, even though exposure through food contact materials may be far more relevant”, the authors claim.

Further Information: Study, TEDX list

Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR)

The Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) is an expert ad hoc body administered jointly by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), which harmonizes the requirement and the risk assessment on the pesticide residues. The Committee invites submissions of information on substances that will be evaluated at future meetings as described in its requests for data. The list of substances to be evaluated is based on recommendations of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR), previous Expert Meetings, and direct requests from governments, other interested organizations, and producers of substances that have been evaluated previously.  

dates: 16-25 September 2014   location: Rome, Lazio, Italy   contact: Philippe Verger  phone: +41-22-791-4807   fax: +41-22-791-3053   e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    www: who.int/foodsafety/chem/jmpr/data/en/index.html