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NEERI inaugurates POP centre in Nagpur

With a view to effectively deal with the menace of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in India and 10 neighbouring countries,the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute formally inaugurated its Stockholm Convention Regional Center on POPs for Asia region in Nagpur on Monday.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
November 24, 2011 3:23:50 am

With a view to effectively deal with the menace of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in India and 10 neighbouring countries,the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) formally inaugurated its Stockholm Convention Regional Center on POPs for Asia region in Nagpur on Monday.

The Stockholm Convention on POPs is an international treaty ratified by 173 countries to reduce the risk of these toxins on public health and the environment. In the Conference of Parties (COP) 5 to the convention in Geneva in April,NEERI was officially endorsed as a regional centre for capacity building and technology transfer after having been nominated in September 2010.

“The purpose of this regional centre is identification followed by minimisation or eradication of the use of these chemicals in India and neighbouring countries,” said Dr N P Thacker,chief scientist and head of the analytical instrumentation division,NEERI. This regional centre will serve Bangladesh,Maldives,Mongolia,Myanmar,Nepal,Philippines,Thailand,Sri Lanka,UAE and Vietnam besides India.

The institute has been working with these chemicals for the past 25 years. The convention identifies 12 POPs of three types — pesticides,industrial chemicals and unintentionally produced chemicals — for restriction and elimination. Of these,India’s biggest concerns are only four — DDT,polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),dioxins and furans — as the production,use and import of the others is banned.

“As part of this initiative,we have started capacity-building and taken up remediation of contaminated sites. We are involved with ensuring sound management and safe disposal of these chemicals as well as training people for the same. Awareness programmes for stakeholders highlighting the environmental and health effects of POPs are also part of the plan,” said Thacker,adding that many activities began in April,soon after the endorsement.

A training programme for capacity-building for environmentally sound management of PCB oil and PCB containing equipment at ship-breaking yard at Alang,Gujarat,was announced on Monday.

POPs cause serious health problems and adversely affect the environment. “They are highly toxic,some of them even in very low concentrations,and may cause cancer. They are hazardous to the environment as they are not biodegradable and stay for long periods of time,” said Thacker. Exposure can also lead to birth defects and fertility problems.

DDT is the only pesticide which is manufactured in the country but under various controls. PCBs are not manufactured in India but are released in ship-breaking activities. Dioxins and furans,some of the most toxic chemicals known to science,are unintentionally produced chemicals,which are a result of burning of wood,plastic and waste.

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