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Nations partner to reduce pollutants
by Qin Jize, China Daily (9 Jul 2004)

Experts from China and Japan met yesterday in Beijing to promote international efforts to eliminate a dozen hazardous chemicals known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). "By ratifying the Stockholm Convention, China has committed itself to eliminate the production, distribution and use of POPs," said Zhang Qingfeng from the Stockholm Convention Implementation Office of the State Environmental Protection Administration.

The Stockholm Convention on POPs was signed by about 150 countries in May 2001 and took effect on May 17 this year. China's top legislature ratified the convention at the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) last June. The convention signaled the start of an ambitious international effort to rid the world of POPs. It aims to initially control a dozen of the pollutants.

"China has already had co-operation on POPs control with Canada, Italy, the United States and other international organizations, mainly in the field of replacing POPs with increasingly safe and effective alternatives," said Zhang, who is looking forward to a new co-operative relationship with Japan.

POPs are highly toxic chemical substances that threaten human health and the environment. For decades, they have killed and made people and animals sick by causing cancer and damaging nervous, reproductive and immune systems. They are also believed to cause birth defects.

Well-known POPs in China are DDT, used to combat malaria, Chlordane and Mirex in termite control and PCBs, used as electrical insulators in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment.

The elimination of POPs requires great input, Zhang said, noting that lack of professionals and the funds to develop techniques, and insufficient public education are bottle necks for substituting, treating and reducing POPs.


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