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Nations sign on to persistent-pollutants ban

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12:10pm, May 30, 2001

In Stockholm last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman joined her counterparts from 126 other nations in signing the new United Nations Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. This treaty, the first of the new century, echoes a more limited treaty negotiated 3 years ago under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (SN: 7/4/98, p. 6).

Though the convention calls for eventual elimination of all long-lived, low-volatility toxic pollutants, it at first targets only 12 such persistent organic pollutants, or POPs (SN: 12/16/00, p. 389). They are dioxins and related furans; polychlorinated biphenyls; and the pesticides aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene, mirex, and toxaphene. Some nations will receive waivers to use DDT in fighting malaria (SN: 7/1/00, p. 12).

The production, sale, and use of the majority of these pollutants had already been banned or severely restricted in most industrialized

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