[JURIST] The UN Environment Programme [official website], meeting in Geneva on Saturday, decided to add nine chemicals [press release] to its list of banned chemicals under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) [official website]. Not all the added chemicals will be banned immediately [Houston Chronicle report], however, as some will need to be phased out over time and others will be permitted in limited use where there are no alternatives currently available for their purpose. The Convention also reached an understanding on the use of DDT [EPA materials], one of the original "dirty dozen" POPs, acknowledging that some countries rely on the chemical to reduce malaria-bearing mosquitoes and other pests. The nine chemicals that have been banned are all proven to cause immune system damage or death in humans, or cause severe developmental problems in infants. Several of the newly-banned chemicals, including lindane [FDA materials] and hexabromobiphenyl, are already no longer widely in use.
The UN Environment Programme is the environmental arm of the UN established in 1972 under the original Stockholm Convention. Its goals [organization profile, PDF] include conserving endangered species, controlling the movement of hazardous wastes, and conserving reversing the depletion of the ozone layer. The Stockholm Convention on POPs was adopted in 2001 and ratified in 2004, and originally banned twelve chemical substances - ten pesticides (including DDT) and two industrial chemical compounds.