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April 30th, 2013:

South Africa

The New Age4/30/2013 12:57:09 AM
Sandton in rubbish talks

Rudolph Nkgadima

The city of Johannesburg needs new ways to properly manage general waste as it runs out of landfill space.

In an effort to try and solve this problem the city, in collaboration with Pikitup, will host the inaugural Joburg waste summit on May 15 and 16 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The summit will focus on the diversion of general waste away from landfills through waste treatment technologies and recycling technologies.

“Waste is a growing concern to all of us. We will involve big industries, communities and government to try and devise how we tackle this issue.

“We want to reduce the amount of waste that gets to the landfill but that cannot be achieved without community participation,” Pikitup spokesperson Desiree Ntshingila said.

The summit will also enable the city to present its new waste management strategy to all delegates; explore opportunities that flow from the implementation plan; and solicit support of this strategy from the waste management fraternity and communities.

Ntshingila said: “Education is very important because many of our people dump and litter illegally without realising the dangers of it.

“We urge communities to start recycling because it will not only ensure safe health but also because it has financial benefits.”

Issues such as waste minimisation and recycling – which include the separation of recyclable waste at source, and waste treatment technologies such as waste to energy, composting, incineration, anaerobic digestion, gasification, mechanical biological treatment, plasma arc waste disposal, pyrolysis, UASB (applied to solid wastes) and waste autoclave – will be thoroughly debated.

Last week a three-year-old baby, Jordan Louis of Cape Town, died after inhaling dangerous fumes from toxic chemicals which were dumped near her home.

She and a group of friends were playing next to bags which were illegally dumped.

Three policemen were also admitted to hospital after they inhaled the fumes when they responded to urgent calls from residents.

BBC News – Bee deaths: EU to ban neonicotinoid pesticides

Bee deaths: EU to ban neonicotinoid pesticides

Comments (450)  Honeybees are vital for pollinating crops – a job that would be very costly without them

Continue reading the main story Related StoriesBee campaigners march on Parliament Watch [/news/science-environment-22312105] Ban pesticides to save bees, say MPs [/news/science-environment-22021104] Pesticides ‘damage brains of bees’ [/news/science-environment-21958547]

A vote in the EU has paved the way for the European Commission to restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths in scientific studies.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations.

Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.

But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban – not enough to form a qualified majority. According to EU rules the Commission will now impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 July this year.

The UK did not support a ban – it argues that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive. It was among eight countries that voted against, while four abstained.

Wild species such as honey bees are said by researchers to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world’s crop production.

There is heated debate about what has triggered the widespread decline in bee populations. Besides chemicals, many experts point to the parasitic varroa mite, viruses that attack bees and neglect of hives.

After Monday’s vote the EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, said “the Commission will go ahead with its text in the coming weeks”.

“I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22bn euros (£18.5bn; $29bn) annually to European agriculture, are protected.”

Continue reading the main story What exactly are Neonicotinoids?Nicotine is not just lethal to humans in the form of cigarettes, but the chemical is also extremely toxic to insectsNeonicotinoid pesticides are new nicotine-like chemicals and act on the nervous systems of insects, with a lower threat to mammals and the environment than many older spraysPesticides made in this way are water soluble, which means they can be applied to the soil and taken up by the whole plant – they are called “systemic”, meaning they turn the plant itself into a poison factory, with toxins coming from roots, leaves, stems and pollenNeonicotinoids are often applied as seed treatments, which means coating the seeds before planting.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said Monday’s vote “makes it crystal clear that there is overwhelming scientific, political and public support for a ban.

“Those countries opposing a ban have failed.”

An EU vote last month was inconclusive, so the Commission proposal went to an appeals committee on Monday – and again the countries were split on the issue.

Some restrictions are already in place for neonicotinoids in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia.

The three neonicotinoids are clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam.

A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

However, it added that in some cases it was “unable to finalise the assessments due to shortcomings in the available data”.

Intensive lobbying

There was ferocious lobbying both for and against in the run-up to Monday’s vote, the BBC’s Chris Morris reports from Brussels.

Nearly three million signatures were collected in support of a ban. Protesters against neonicotinoids rallied in Westminster on Friday.

Campaign organiser Andrew Pendleton of the environmental group Friends of the Earth said “leading retailers have already taken action by removing these pesticides from their shelves and supply chains – the UK government must act too”.

Chemical companies and pesticide manufacturers have been lobbying just as hard – they argue that the science is inconclusive, and that a ban would harm food production.

The UK government seems to agree with the industry lobby. It objected to the proposed ban in its current form. The chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, has said restrictions on the use of pesticides should not be introduced lightly, and the idea of a ban should be dropped.

The EU moratorium will not apply to crops non-attractive to bees, or to winter cereals.

It will prohibit the sale and use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

And there will be a ban on the sale of neonicotinoids to amateur growers.

There have been a number of studies showing that the chemicals, made by Bayer and Syngenta, do have negative impacts on bees.

One study suggested that neonicotinoids affected the abilities of hives to produce queen bees. More recent research indicated that the pesticides damaged their brains.

But the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) argues that these studies were mainly conducted in the laboratory and do not accurately reflect field conditions

The Prevention of Occupational Diseases

The report highlights occupational safety and health (OSH) as an integral part of the promotion of the prevention of occupational diseases.

International Labour Organization ILO/OIT – 2013


Occupational diseases cause huge suffering and loss in the world of work. While much progress has been made in addressing the challenges of occupational diseases, there is an urgent need to strengthen the capacity for their prevention in national OSH systems.

With the collaborative effort of governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations, the fight against this hidden epidemic will have to feature prominently in new global and national agendas for safety and health.

This report for the World Day for Safety and Health at Work outlines the current situation concerning occupational diseases and presents proposals for addressing this serious Decent Work deficit.

“….Occupational diseases cause huge suffering and loss in the world of work. Yet, occupational or work-related diseases remain largely invisible in comparison to industrial accidents, even though they kill six times as many people each year.

Furthermore, the nature of occupational diseases is altering rapidly: technological and social changes, along with global economic conditions, are aggravating existing health hazards and creating new ones. Well-known occupational diseases, such as pneumoconioses, remain widespread, while relatively new occupational diseases, such as mental and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are on the rise…..”

Downloads available at:

English: The Prevention of Occupational Diseases,
Español: La Prevención de las enfermedades profesionales
Français: La Prévention des maladies professionnelles
Italiano: La prevenzione delle malattie professionali

Report Content:

I. The hidden epidemic: A global picture

Emerging risks and new challenges

Musculoskeletal and mental disorders

The costs of occupational and work-related diseases

II. Assessing the need for better data

III. Steps for the prevention of occupational diseases
The role of employers and workers

IV. ILO action

V. The road ahead

What constitutes an occupational disease?

An occupational disease is a disease contracted as a result of an exposure to risk factors arising from work.
Recognition of the occupational origin of a disease, at the individual level, requires the establishment of a causal relationship between the disease and the exposure of the worker to certain hazardous agents at the workplace.

This relationship is normally established on the basis of clinical and pathological data, occupational history (anamnesis) and job analysis, identification and evaluation of occupational hazards as well as exposure verification. When a disease is clinically diagnosed and a causal link is established, the disease is then recognized as occupational…”


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Delta air quality improves, but roadside pollution worse in Hong Kong

Tuesday, 30 April, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Cheung Chi-fai

Clean-ups at power plants and tighter controls on vehicle emissions cited as key factors

Air quality in the Pearl River Delta improved last year, according to the latest regional air quality report, but concerns are mounting about the deterioration of roadside air in Hong Kong.

The biggest improvement was in sulphur dioxide concentrations, which fell by an average of 25 per cent from 2011 levels.

Respirable suspended particles – tiny specks of pollutants that can penetrate the lungs – fell 13 per cent year on year, while ozone dropped by 7 per cent and nitrogen dioxide by 5 per cent.

Environment officials in Hong Kong attributed the decrease to “favourable meteorological conditions” as well as emission reductions. Last year Guangdong expanded the supply of cleaner petrol and boosted a clean-up at power plants and cement kilns, and in Hong Kong vehicle emission standards were tightened, officials said.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, last year there was 20 per cent less rainfall than normal, and 15 per cent less sunshine. The region also experienced its worst storm in years, when tropical cyclone Vicente swept into the city last July.

Professor Wang Tao, an air pollution expert at Polytechnic University, said the news came as little surprise as pollution had been on a declining trend.

He said the fall in sulphur levels could be due largely to a clean-up at mainland power plants. “It is very efficient to remove sulphur by as much as 90 per cent if scrubbers are installed,” he said.

Officials said accumulated improvements in air quality ranged from 17 to 62 per cent since 2006, the first full year air data became available under a cross-border monitoring network comprising 16 stations on building roofs.

Despite the improvement, a local clean air advocacy group remained deeply worried about air quality at street level.

“The continuing improvement to the regional air quality is in stark contrast to Hong Kong’s deteriorating roadside air pollution, in particular nitrogen dioxide,” said Kwong Sum-yin, of the Clean Air Network.

The continuing improvement to the regional air quality is in stark contrast to Hong Kong’s deteriorating roadside air pollution, in particular nitrogen dioxide

Kwong Sum-yin of the Clean Air Network

Earlier this month, Hong Kong recorded one of its worst roadside quality readings, with the air pollution index soaring to more than 210 in Central.

Kwong urged the government to speed up a phase-out of dirty diesel trucks. Some HK$10 billion has been earmarked to compensate truck operators under a plan to remove up to 88,000 trucks from the streets by 2019.


Air Pollution

Pearl River Delta

Hong Kong

Roadside pollution

Source URL (retrieved on Apr 30th 2013, 6:11am):

· hk_haze_166797340_35227027.jpg

Pearl River Delta air quality has improved, but roadside pollution is getting worse in Hong Kong