UNbacked accord on hazardous chemicals set to add petrol additives to list

The Interim Chemical Review Committee of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade – which enters into force on 24 February – is holding its fifth and final meeting in Geneva this week.The UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) said yesterday that the committee is likely to recommend that the petrol or gasoline additives tetraethyl lead and tetramethyl lead and the pesticide parathion be added to the voluntary PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention.If that happens, the recommendation will go to a meeting in Geneva in September for final approval before its inclusion on the permanent and binding Convention list.The Convention is designed to help governments, especially in the developing world, prevent chemical accidents and pollution. The PIC list allows countries to decide which chemicals and pesticides they want to import and which they do not because they cannot manage them safely.The move to add leaded gasoline additives to the list follows mounting health and environmental concerns about leaded gas, which is still widely available in many developing countries but is being phased out in many developed nations.Chronic or severe lead poisoning has been linked to anorexia, constipation, fatigue, impaired kidney function, heart damage, mental retardation, convulsion, coma and death, according to UNEP. In children even relatively low levels can cause hyperactivity, reduced attention span, lower learning capacity, fearfulness and general regression.