International Treaty Phases Out Toxins

Last week an international treaty mandating the phase-out of a dozen highly toxic chemicals, including DDT and PCBs, took effect with 50 signatories despite lack of formal involvement by the United States.

But reportedly President Bush is happy to abide by the treaty, which was initially negotiated by the Clinton administration and bans the production and trade in hazardous chemicals long illegal in the United States. American ratification of the treaty is awaiting a decision by Congress.

The newly regulated chemicals have been found to persist for decades in the environment, and can travel long distances while accumulating in the food chain. Some have been linked to cancer and other diseases. The list includes PCBs, dioxins, furans, DDT, aldrin, hexachlorobenzene, chlordane, mirex, toxaphene, dieldrin, endrin and heptachlor.

According to Claudia McMurray, deputy assistant secretary of state for the environment, the Bush administration will be knocking on a lot of Congressional doors for the next few months to get the treaty ratified. “What we’re looking for here is to protect our own citizens against emissions from other countries,” she says.