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DECEMBER 1, 1998   9:48 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Greenpeace
Marcelo Furtado, Greenpeace International +54 1 538 2461
Veronica Odriozola, Greenpeace Argentina, mobile +54 1 428 0597 (Buenos Aires)
 
Greenpeace Global Expedition Exposes Damage Caused By Chemical Poisons
 
BUENOS AIRES - December 1 - The Greenpeace ship 'MV Greenpeace' will today embark on a global expedition from Argentina to expose the damage caused by highly polluting and persistent poisons. Greenpeace is calling on the industries responsible for the contamination for an immediate clean-up and demands worldwide political commitment to 'zero toxic discharges'. The expedition will head to Brazil in January and later move on to the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia.

"The aim of our expedition is to expose the contaminated hot-spots, to research and stop toxic emissions discharged by industrial plants into water sources, the ocean and the environment at large", said Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace. "Industrial toxic discharges and emissions represent a major threat to humans and the environment. We want industry to recognize and accept their responsibility for this global disaster".

Industrial plants generate millions of tons of toxic chemicals and consequently toxic pollution has long been a curse of industrial areas all over the world. These polluting chemicals, or persistent poisons, are still produced in countries such as Argentina, India, the US, Germany, Turkey, Israel and others and their manufacture and use continue to affect food and water sources, animals and humans even in remote regions, such as at the poles. These persistent poisons are collectively known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

The most notorious examples of these toxic chemicals include the pesticide DDT, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenols, used mainly as a coolant in electric transformers), and dioxin, which is one of the most toxic man-made substances and a by-product of the incineration of chlorine-based substances, such as vinyl plastic (PVC).

Variable amounts of these persistent poisons can be found everywhere on the planet and in the body of every human being. These harmful pollutants last a long time in the environment, accumulate in the fat tissues of animals, contaminate food and are passed from mother to child in the womb and through mother's milk. They have been associated with a range of serious health effects that may show up in the young child, or may only appear in adult life. These include learning disabilities and behavioral abnormalities, immune system changes, reproductive system disorders and cancers.

"We want to enter the new millennium with a firm commitment from industry and world governments for a 'toxic free future'", said Furtado. "Unborn babies should not be threatened by the effects of these chemical poisons while still in their mother's womb".

Over 100 nations in conjunction with the United Nations environmental program (UNEP) are currently negotiating a plan to reduce and eliminate an initial priority group of 12 toxic chemicals. The next meeting will take place in Nairobi in January 1999 and Greenpeace is calling on the country parties to this treaty to take responsibility and immediately clean up the existing hot spots, ban all toxic chemicals and promote clean alternatives worldwide.

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