Raleigh News and Observer
10 March 2003
work on blueprint for cutting dioxin, related pollutants
EMERY P. DALESIO, , Associated Press Writer
TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (AP) - Environmental experts from 35 countries
gathered Monday to start hammering out industry guidelines they
hope will one day rid the world of dioxin and related pollutants.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting the meeting convened
by the United Nations Environmental Programme. Participants are
working to sort out practical ways to change industrial processes
that unintentionally produce a class of pollutants that last a long
time before breaking down and can cause cancer and birth defects.
Most of the dozen persistent organic pollutants named as needing
immediate global action are either pesticides, like DDT and chlordane,
or industrial chemicals such as PCBs. Their production can be stopped
if the plants that make them are turned off.
dioxins and furans are emitted when industries are producing something
else, like pulp and paper mills that use chlorine or cement kilns
firing hazardous waste.
byproducts of certain types of industrial and combustion processes.
The reason for the distinction is that you can't just turn off the
tap," said meeting co-chairman Bob Kellam, of EPA's Office
of Air Quality and Standards in Research Triangle Park. "Instead
you have to look at the industries that release them and figure
out what you can to mitigate."
weeklong session is the first since the United States and other
countries pledged to stop the intentional production of the pollutants,
signing a treaty in Stockholm, Sweden.
treaty goes into effect after the governments of about two dozen
more countries agree to change their own laws in line with the U.N.
document. The Bush Administration is placing a priority on Congress
ratifying the treaty and is working to introduce legislation this
year, said Dale Evarts, EPA's international program coordinator
for air quality planning.
developing countries, applying the treaty is faster than developing
their own regulations and it protects people from polluters shopping
the world for places where environmental laws are lax, said Nelson
Manda of Zambia, the head of the chemicals department of his country's
equivalent to the EPA.
an industry wants to set up in Africa, in one of our countries,
we could easily look up to these guidelines (and ask), 'Are you
conforming with A, B, C, D?' That would help us benchmark an industry
against what is really necessary," he said.
an international treaty also insulates environmental laws from politicians
waiving regulations to try to hasten development in a poor country,
an important tool," he said.
meeting is being held in RTP because it is home to the EPA's largest
operation outside of Washington, D.C., and home to its air quality
office. A second U.N.-sponsored meeting is scheduled for July in
Geneva, Kellem said.