I think the treaty is one of the most sensible enviromental treaties on paper, I have seen. Of course 'sensible' on paper, doesn't mean that it will be reasonably implemented. Most of the chemical listed are nasty, but probably not life threating to humans, but known to cause cancer or ulimately kill certain animals in very large dosage.
All of the chemicals listed in the treaty are persistant organic polutants, that attach themselves to fat cells, via. ingestion of food, and stay there.
For example, cow eats grass, that has dioxin and furans on it from burning (usually at low tempetures -- ie. incomplete combustion) pvc plastic (ie. plastic pipeing, some plastic bottles) or pressure treated wood (like from a deck). Farmer milks cow, and sells milk. Somebody buys the milk, and drink it. The dioxins and furans attach themselves to fat cells, and stay there for many years (decades).
Luckly, even in high dosages, humans doen't get sick from POP chemicals, at least as far as proven test results go. But as some lab animals (rats, gerbils) do get really sick (as do some wild birds), they can't rule it out for sure.
POP aren't a threat in low dosage. If you burn some PVC plastic, cholorated paper, clorine bleech or pressure treated wood (which is extermely difficult to do, if you have tried) out back (even lots of it), your not going to create a enough toxin to do harm to anything, especially not humans or large animals.
PCBs are basically in the same boat. People eat fish with lots PCBs in them and don't die from them. People who have drank water from PCB contamted souces, don't show any precent of sickness or cancer then normal. It does kill fish and birds though at very high levels.
Then there DDT. DDT used be called the "safe" pestiside. It is pretty much harmless to humans. It does mess up egg development in eagles, in high concentrations (mostly caused by overuse of heaving spraying for agricultural use).
POP's real threat is if a chemical company dumps tens of thousands of tons of these chemicals into water or into the air day after day. Besides having a slimy, onslightly mess, they will probably make some small animals sick.
That said, upsetting food chains is a pretty dangerous thing to do -- killing small animals isn't a great pratice.
Visual damage to the enviroment is probably what POP chemicals causes the most of, and scariness to people (as once you get POP chemicals in you it stays).
The treaty puts reasonable dates to phase out these chemicals. In the states, most of them have been on the way out for while.
Modern incinerators produce very low amounts of dioxin and furans, diesel has been reformatulated to burn more completely and with fewer clorinates becoming dixoin, paper bleching plants release less chemicals into the air, PVC is being phased out for alot of things. PCBs are illegal to dump anywhere in the US, in any amount (of course that still happens when people discard old transformers, capciators, etc.) DDT is also illegal.
It doesn't go nuts trying to flat out ban these chemicals too. Banning diesel, burning of garbage at low tempetures by rural residents, banning of all transformers (using PCBs as a coolent -- ie. over 25 years old) would be and outrageous (and wasteful) reaction to this.
This treaty takes chemicals that are harmful to the enviroment (not humans particularly) in very large dosages and try to curve or elimate (when it makes sense to elimate) their use or existance. It makes perfect sense to me, I would see who not agree to it (except maybe enviro-nazis who say it doesn't go far enough, or those who are afraid if it will be abused to do things it doesn't say).
Andrew B. Arthur | firstname.lastname@example.org |