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Oil and chemical giants lobby against rules on microplastic chemicals | Greenpeace int.

London, UK - Trading groups representing the world's largest oil and chemical companies oppose a groundbreaking new proposal to regulate toxic and persistent chemicals in microplastics, proves Documents, published by the investigation platform Unearthed from Greenpeace UK.

“We know that microplastics are found everywhere, from Arctic sea ice to tap water, and that it's related to the spread of harmful chemicals. Many of these substances have slipped through the web of global regulation, but this proposal could change that and so the industry is determined to stop it. Where we see a breakthrough effect in protecting marine life from toxic pollution, the oil and chemical lobby only sees a threat to its profits, "said Nina Cabinet, who heads the Greenpeace UK plastic campaign.

Microplastic pollution has been found virtually everywhere on the planet, from oceans, lakes, and rivers to raindrops, air, wildlife, and even our plates. A Studie shows that it can release harmful chemicals and attract other pollutants already present in seawater and in the bowels of marine life and further in the Food chain lands.

Last year the Swiss government made one Vorschlag to include a widely used plastic additive in the Stockholm Convention - the United Nations Global Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants. It is the first proposal to require a chemical to be included on the basis, among other things, that it travels long distances via microplastics and plastic waste.

The chemical UV-328, which is widely used in plastic products, rubber, paints, coatings, and cosmetics to protect them from UV damage, has received relatively little research. However, scientists fear that it does not break down easily in the environment, accumulates in organisms, and can harm wildlife or human health. [1]

A new investigation by Unearthed shows that powerful Lobby groups Representatives from companies such as BASF, ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Ineos, BP and Shell reject the proposal, arguing that there is insufficient evidence to consider the additive as a persistent organic pollutant. Emails and documents received from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under transparency laws indicate that the American Chemistry Council and the European Chemical Industry Council are raising concerns about the precedent the proposal may set.

The inclusion of this chemical in the Stockholm Convention would lead to production or use bans and could be a milestone in the regulation of chemicals in microplastics. UV-328 is just one of many chemicals added to the plastics manufacturing process that some scientists now fear could spread far and wide via microplastics and pose potential risks to wildlife, human health, or the environment.

At a meeting in January, the Convention's Scientific Committee agreed that there was sufficient evidence for UV-328 to meet the Convention's initial criteria for being a persistent organic pollutant. In September, the proposal will move to the next stage of the process, where the committee will develop a risk profile to decide whether the additive presents sufficient risk to warrant global action.

"Reducing the amount of single-use plastic in circulation has to be part of the solution, but that's exactly what the industry doesn't want," says Greenpeace Cabinet. “Your entire business model is still geared towards creating more waste and pollution, regardless of the consequences. So we need determined government intervention to tackle harmful chemicals, set plastic reduction targets and force industry to take responsibility for the pollution they cause. "

The industry's position has also raised concerns among some indigenous peoples in the Arctic. Viola Waghiyiwhich is a native village of Savoonga tribal people, is part of a Yupik indigenous community on Sivuqaq in the Arctic, and recently to Biden's new  White House Advisory Council on Environmental Justice was appointed, criticized the US position.

"We are concerned that this chemical has reached the Arctic and could be toxic, but this is not just about one chemical," she said Unearthed . “Our community has been exposed to so many chemicals. The Stockholm Convention recognizes the particular vulnerability of indigenous peoples in the Arctic, but the EPA does not pay attention to the health and well-being of our people. The US produces so many toxic chemicals, but it is not even a party to the convention, ”said Waghiyi.

Dr. Omowunmi H. Fred-Ahmadu, Environmental chemist at Covenant University, Nigeria, and lead author of a paper from last year about microplastic chemicals Unearthed: “Plastics are a cocktail of all kinds of chemicals, such as UV-328, that are embedded in order to change their structure and function. However, they are not chemically bound to the plastic, so these chemicals are slowly released into the environment or when they enter organisms, even if the plastic itself is excreted. This is where most of the toxicity - the damage - comes from. The extent of the damage they do to humans is still being investigated, but a number of toxic effects on marine organisms have been demonstrated, such as reproductive problems and the stunting of organs. "

Read the full Unearthed story Click here .

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Photos: Greenpeace

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