World Bulletin / News Desk
Increasing misuse of chemicals is causing health and environmental damage especially in emerging economies and governments must do more to carry out a promised clean-up by 2020, a United Nations report said on Wednesday.
Production and use of chemicals - from plastics to pesticides - is shifting to developing nations where safeguards are often weaker, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) said. Unsafe disposal and recycling adds to risks, it said.
Poisonings from industrial and agricultural chemicals are among the top five leading causes of death worldwide, contributing to more than a million deaths every year, UNEP said in a statement of its Global Chemicals Outlook.
"The gains that chemicals can provide must not come at the expense of human health and the environment," Achim Steiner, head of UNEP, said of its first assessment of chemicals.
The report said chemicals are ubiquitous in modern products, from food to mobile phones, and meant millions of people live "richer, more productive and more comfortable lives".
Scientists have only assessed the risks of using a fraction of an estimated 140,000 chemicals marketed worldwide, in everything from plastics to pesticides, UNEP said.
Governments promised in 2002, and reaffirmed the promise at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June, to produce and use chemicals by 2020 "in ways that minimise significant adverse effects on the environment and human health."
Progress in improving safeguards and finding better production methods so far have been "slow" and results "are too often insufficient", UNEP said. It listed firms such as Bayer, Boots or BASF as having ways to avoid damaging chemicals.
"The world is not on target" for the 2020 goal, Mounkaila Goumandakoye, a director of the UNEP regional office for Africa, told a news conference in Nairobi. Stockpiles of dangerous, obsolete pesticides in Africa totalled 50,000 tonnes, he said.
Chemicals including ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, styrene and formaldehyde are among frequent air pollutants. Chemicals flowing into waters include nitric acid, manganese, methanol, and formaldehyde.
The report said that the value of global chemicals output surged from $171 billion in 1970 to $4.12 trillion by 2010, but often without adequate environmental protection.
And the share produced by rich nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) fell from 77 percent to 63 percent from 2000 to 2009, while big developing nations such as China and India took on a rising share.
Risks "are compounded by the steady shift in the production, use and disposal of chemical products from developed countries to emerging and developing economies, where safeguards and regulations are often weaker," UNEP said.
Better management of chemicals could help a shift to greener economy that would safeguard the environment and help growth.
"Sound chemicals management is as valid an area as education, transport, infrastructure, direct health care services and other essential public services," said Maria Neira, director for public health and the environment at the World Health Organization.
The phase-out of lead in gasoline in recent decades, for instance, provided global benefits worth an estimated $2.45 trillion a year, or 4 percent of world gross domestic product, UNEP said. Lead has been shown to cause brain damage.
And the "the accumulated cost of illness and injury linked to pesticides in small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa could reach $90 billion" from 2005 to 2020, it said.
The study also said rich nations are failing to recycle electronic waste, such as from old computers or television sets.
"Estimates suggest that up to 75 per cent of the e-waste generated in Europe and approximately 80 per cent of the e-waste generated in the United States goes unaccounted for," it said.
The intervention in a Chinese company’s bid to buy German chip maker, Aixtron, comes after Chinese companies have spent billions to acquire technology in Europe and the United States.
Malware designed for cellphones are designed to steal email addresses and authentication data stored on the devices to access sensitive data from Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs and other services, Check Point said.
Japan plans to build the world's fastest-known supercomputer as part of a government policy to get back Japan's mojo in the world of technology
The once-mighty Finnish company sold its device business to Microsoft in 2014, where phones were sold under the Lumia brand. But as Microsoft effectively exits the smartphone business, Nokia is set to return.
South Korea denied a request by Google to export digital-map date
Day after releasing new anti-harassment policies, company promotes ad for white supremacists
On trip to US, senior executives in tech industry tell investors of opportunities offered
Facebook today announced that it has purchased CrowdTangle, a 4-year-old tool that publishers use to track how content spreads around the ...
Moscow City Court has upheld a ruling to block the LinkedIn professional network website.
Neither Tesla nor Grohmann have offered details of how much money is to change hands with the Tesla purchase of Grohmann
The presidential election is being debated extensively in the world media. One of the most important topics of discussion is the effect of Google on the US election. Donald Trump has accused Google of manipulating the remaining weeks and hours are now left behind. Trump accused has Google of hiding negative search results about Clinton and showing Clinton ahead in the polls.
Overseas critics of the law have argued that Beijing's new cybersecurity law threatens to shut foreign technology companies out of various sectors deemed "critical", and includes data to be stored on servers located in China
A French teen has been given a suspended jail sentence for naming his wifi network after the terrorist group
Tesla has defended a merger with SolarCity, saying the company will contribute $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and a half-billion over the next three years.