[ASC-media] Media Release: Scientists call for world clean-up

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Sun Sep 22 15:12:56 PDT 2013

:: CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment

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Scientists call for world clean-up

September 23, 2013 – for immediate release

Leading international contamination experts have called for world-wide action to reduce the impact of man-made chemicals on human health and the environment.

Warning of growing disease risks from the many tens of thousands of industrial chemicals now circulating round the planet in air, water, food, wildlife and consumer goods, some of the world’s most eminent contamination scientists have endorsed the launch of a global effort to reduce the scope for harm.

“We the participants of the CleanUp 2013 conference support the formation of an international initiative to define contamination problems that have a serious impact on human health and the environment, identify effective and practical solutions, and share them globally,” reads the statement passed unanimously by attendees at CleanUp 2013, the world’s largest contamination science meeting.

The Global Contamination Initiate (GCI), formed as a result, is a world-wide alliance of scientists, industry and regulators which aims to understand, curb and clean-up chemical emissions, which are having major health effects around the world. 

“This is a problem to which there are no boundaries,” says GCI co-ordinator Professor Ravi Naidu of the University of South Australia and the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE). “It affects every country, all societies and most individuals. It is estimated there are more than five million potentially contaminated sites, as well as mounting evidence of global contamination of air, water and food.”

“Many of these chemical emissions are toxic: hundreds are now being linked by science to cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, learning difficulties, obesity, infertility, arrested child development and other conditions whose origins have so far appeared a mystery. 

“However the full extent of the chemical distribution and its effects on the health of the world population and life on Earth in general remain largely unknown.”

Professor Naidu said that while excellent science is being pursued by a handful of countries to try to understand and solve the problem, it understandably has a strong national focus.

“This is a global problem, and it needs a harmonised global approach along with a huge effort to share common knowledge about the risks and possible solutions or ways to clean up problem contaminants worldwide.

“In particular we see a need to improve communication between researchers, industry, regulators, consumers and the public on this issue.”

Professor Naidu says that according to the United Nations Environment Program, world chemical output is now around 20 million metric tonnes or more, about a third of which is thought to be toxic or carcinogenic. This is expanding at about 3 per cent a year, indicating global chemical emissions could double within about 20 years.

The Global Contamination Initiative is envisaged as a worldwide knowledge network, performing new scientific research, aggregating and sharing existing knowledge, helping to develop and publicise novel assessment and clean-up technologies, advising governments and industry on ways to improve existing regulation or industry practices, training high-level experts and sharing knowledge about ways to reduce man-made contamination in all facets of society and the natural environment.

Some of the world’s leading scientific institutions have indicated they wish to take part in GCI, which is currently hosted by CRC CARE and the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation at the University of SA. 

The Initiative will be a central topic at CleanUp 2015, which will be hosted by CRC CARE and will again be held in Melbourne, Australia. For details and papers from CleanUp 13, see: www.cleanupconference.com

More information:
Prof. Ravi Naidu, Managing Director, CRC CARE, +61 (0)8 8302 5041 or 0407 720 257
Adam Barclay, Communications Manager, CRC CARE, +61 (0)8 8302 3925 or +61 429 779 228 www.crccare.com

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