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The Gender Dimensions of Hazardous Substances and Waste

WECF and Indonesian partner Balifokus organised stakeholder forum on how to address POPs and how to protect women and men from banned hazardous chemicals

28.02.2017 |

Christine, working mom from Indonesia collected 10,000 signatures, calling to ban anti-lice oil peditox with ingredient Lindane, the POPs made her child ill

WECF and its Indonesian partner, Balifokus, organised a Stakeholder forum in Jakarta on the 23rd of February. Participants included the Ministries of Environment and Health, the National Food and Drug Agency, the National LIPI Scientific Institute’s POPRC expert, the WHO, the industry association, the breastfeeding association, the teachers association, the trade unions, the pesticide action network, the ban-lindane-lice-oil campaign, an EDC action group, a medical expert on NDCs and journalists of Kompass and Jakarta Post

Banned hazardous chemicals found in many places

An expert of the national science institute, LIPI, presented the list of banned hazardous chemicals under the Stockholm Convention, the so-called Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). LIPI explained where they are found in Indonesia and who is likely being exposed. Several studies exist for the Government, including those which found 100 times higher level of POPs flame-delays in the commercial part of Jakarta than in other parts, as well as Dioxins around the largest waste dumpsite and DDT contaminated soil in residential areas in Bogor. The new POPs and their multiple consumer product sources were especially an eye-opener for everyone, considering that they exist in most furniture, synthetic floorings and fire-fighting foams. Additionally, there will soon be other POPs that will be added, including those used in non-sticky frying pans.

Indonesian Breastfeeding Mothers Association survey among 1000 members: 74% are not aware harmful chemicals in our bodies can contaminate children

Mercury in cosmetics, illegal pesticides

The Food authority also explained that there are many cosmetics with forbidden ingredients, including mercury, which are unlabelled so that consumers do not know what they are using. They have created a hotline and website to inform consumers and ask to help identify companies that sell harmful cosmetics. The ministry also reported on informal/illegal imports of pesticides from India and China regarding e-waste and plastic waste.
During the break-out groups, best practices and proposals for how to address POPs were discussed. In particular, how to mobilise women and men through strengthening existing initiatives, such as the waste-scavenger association, the breast-feeding women organisation, the pesticide action groups, the women farmer NGOs, toxic-free groups and the trade unions working for occupational health.

"Recycling" of e-waste

WECF and Balifokus also visited the largest waste dump in Indonesia and spoke to several women and men scavengers, as well as visited sites where e-waste cables, hospital waste, and where plastic and styrofoam are “recycled,” a very harmful process creating many POPs from open burning of PVC plastics.


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