"Prior informed consent" chemicals list grows

Intergovernmental talks under Rotterdam convention end with addition of two substances

World governments have agreed to add two further hazardous chemicals to the list of substances subject to strict import controls under the 1998 Rotterdam convention (ENDS Daily 11 September 1998). The inclusion of ethylene oxide and ethylene dichloride brings to 31 the number of chemicals covered by the convention's prior informed consent (PIC) procedure.

The decision was made on Monday at the seventh session of the convention's intergovernmental negotiating committee, which ended this week. It followed an earlier recommendation from a scientific review committee (ENDS Daily 28 February).

The PIC procedure allows importing countries to stall shipments while they gain more information on the nature of the chemicals involved and, if they wish, to block them. Ethylene oxide is used as an insecticide and imports will now have to be made through PIC. However, it is also used in large quantities as a chemical intermediate and shipments for these purposes will not have to comply with the convention.

Ethylene dichloride is used as a solvent and an insecticide and will also now be more tightly controlled. However, it too is used as a chemical intermediate in the production of PVC polymer and this use, also, will not be subject to PIC.

Follow Up:
Rotterdam Convention, managed by the plant protection service of FAO, tel: +39 06 5705 3441, and the chemicals unit of UNEP, tel: +41 22 917 8111.

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