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PR Newswire - A United Business Media CompanyMexico to eliminate toxic chemical lindane

MONTREAL, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ - Representatives of the government of Mexico announced the country's intention to develop and implement a program leading to the phase out of all uses of lindane, a toxic chemical used mainly as a pesticide and treatment for head lice and scabies, at an international meeting of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) in Montreal last week.

Mexico outlined its plan at a meeting with Canada and the United States to develop a North American Regional Action Plan (NARAP) to reduce or eliminate lindane under the auspices of the CEC.

Dr. Mario Yarto, Director of Toxic Chemicals at the Mexican environment ministry (Semarnat), called the announcement "a victory for public health in Mexico, and a major step forward in the elimination of lindane from the North American environment."

Lindane is a wide-ranging, persistent organic pollutant that accumulates in the environment, animals and fish, before being passed on to humans where it concentrates in milk and body fat. The chemical has long been associated with skin irritation and nausea, but can even cause convulsions and death with high levels of acute exposure. Research has found that some infants in Mexico may be exposed to lindane levels 30 times greater than adults.

William Kennedy, the executive director of the CEC, praised Mexico for its leadership: "These chemicals won't leave the environment unless we stop producing and using them, and Mexico has responded to that challenge most effectively."

Mexico's plan is detailed in the Instituto Nacional de Ecologia's "Lindane National Diagnostic," which was written with the participation of government, industry, academia, indigenous groups, and nongovernmental organizations. Mexico will formulate a timetable for the elimination of lindane use in concert with commitments in the NARAP. This timetable will also include a series of actions planned and assessed for the short, medium and long term.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) reiterated its plans to reevaluate the continuing registration of seed treatment uses after receipt of additional test data. The US EPA expects the reevaluation will be complete by August of 2006. Canada, meanwhile, had previously committed to the elimination of lindane in agricultural uses by the end of 2004.

Once finalized, the NARAP for lindane will likely seek to reduce or eliminate its uses, provide and promote outreach and education, encourage science and research, and strengthen working relationships between regulatory agencies in the three countries.

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