On 10 December, Czech scientists presented in Yerevan the findings of the research they carried out in Akhtala, Alaverdi and Shnogh communities in Lori Region in the frames of ‘Industrial Pollution in Lori Region’ conference.
Still in the summer, the Czech specialists took samples from community land areas, riverbed, residents’ hair, as well as eggs from households during their visit to Akhtala, Alaverdi and Shnogh communities. The samples were researched at University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague.
The research has been carried out in the frames of ‘Involvement of Civil Society in Armenia in Decision-making in Mining’ project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and implemented by Czech ‘Arnika’ organization, ‘Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment’ and ‘EcoLur’ Information NGOs.
Under the findings, the pollution with heavy metals is rather high, it impacts the environment and human health. The Czech scientists discovered a new risk – a carcinogenic chemical substance, dioxin, in the eggs of the hens kept by the residents.
The Head of Consular Service of the Czech Republic to Armenia, First Secretary Ani Shaginyanova said that the mission of ‘Arnika’ organization is to monitor the situation in Armenia, to support the residents who live near the mines and the tailing dumps. The experts can submit their proposals on the solution to the problems to the Armenian Government (video).
President of ‘Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment’ NGO Yelena Manvelyan outlined, ‘Unfortunately, there is monitoring carried out in our country on the pollution of soil, animal products, human hair with heavy metals. The information received as a result of this project gives a new impulse. The availability of high concentration of dioxin in the eggs shall attract the attention of the competent bodies,’ Yelena Manvelyan said (video).
Inga Zarafyan, President of ‘EcoLur’ Informational NGO stress out that a political will is needed to solve the problems. ‘From now on we have a new parliament and we will soon have a new government. The solution to these problems requires a political will.’
Alaverdi plant has been operated with the equipment dating back to the 17th century: nothing has been changed there for a long time except for the location of the chimney. Here we deal with cheap and dangerous technologies. In this regard, both the business and the government shall be held liable, as the alarm signals have always been beaten, but there has been no relevant response. Now we have a new challenge – the availability of dioxin and the intoxication reaches an unacceptable state.
Teghout mine resulted in having newly polluted land areas and newly polluted rivers. Now the mine has a new owner, a new operator has been appointed, a Russian company, which doesn’t mention anything about Teghout on its official website. It’s unclear what kind of relationships and obligations they have towards the community. In this regard as well, we should receive clarifications from the government.’ (video).
19:26 December 10, 2018
Press release from December 10, 2018
Toxic heavy metals were found near people’s houses in Northern Armenia.
The local industry is to blame, Czech scientists say
ALAVERDI/YEREVAN – The vicinity of mining and metallurgical enterprises in Lori Province, Armenia, is likely to be contaminated with dangerous chemicals, mainly copper, exceeding legal standards and hygienic norms. Local hotspots having direct impact on environmental pollution are located either in close proximity to, or directly within the urban areas. The samples from Debed River contained the highest levels of toxic metals, potentially affecting the people farming alongside the riverbank, experts from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague alert. Local and foreign organizations call for rigorous action of governmental bodies.
Copper smelter in Alaverdi, mine and tailing pond in Teghut and several tailing ponds around the town of Akhtala – those are the largest industrial sites of the Lori region and according to latest research, also the cause of copper, zinc, molybdenum, lead and arsenic presence in the neighbouring environment.
The copper levels found in sediments extracted from the river of Debed show rapid increase in samples extracted just below the industrial sites exceeding the background levels even hundred times. (1)
“The sudden elevation of those values proves the forthright influence of the local mining or metallurgical activities on the environmental pollution by heavy metals,” explains Ing. Marek Šír, PhD., co-author of the research funded by the Transition Promotion Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
“However, even less contaminated water may cause health problems to anyone who gets exposed for longer period of time, for example by showering or through farming. Copper in such cases affects negatively mainly liver and kidneys,” an expert from the University of Chemistry and TechnologyWest Bohemia in Pilsen, the lead author of the research
Toxic eggs and playgrounds
The impact on human health was analysed also through sampling human hair of local inhabitants, free-range chicken eggs or children’s sandpits. Half of the examined playgrounds showed considerable heavy metal pollution while children are noticeably highly sensitive and vulnerable to such chemicals. Disturbing concentration of copper was also found in few samples of hair from the people living in the area famous for the UNESCO-listed monasteries.
Speaking about the eggs, Jitka Straková, an expert on toxic chemicals from the Czech NGO Arnika, notes: “In Alaverdi, the detected levels of dioxins exceed both European and Armenian standards, in some cases even over five times.” As the egg samples suggest, the industrial pollution affects also the food-chain and causes considerable danger from dioxin-like compounds. “Just by eating average amount of eggs typical for Armenian population, people already break the tolerable daily dose of dioxins as it was set by European Food Safety Authority,” Straková adds.
The research results were highly anticipated by the locals, Armenian environmentalists say. “We finally have hard scientific data to prove that people’s health is being harmed by the industry due to insufficient protection by the legislation and local authorities,” summarizes Dr. Elena Manvelyan, the Head of Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment NGO. “The responsible authorities have to take immediate and appropriate steps to stop this poisoning,” Manvelyan appeals.
However, the solution might be hard to draw since operations in both Alaverdi and Teghut were recently shut down for business, Ecolur’s president Inga Zarafyan points out. The Russian VTB Bank launched ‘Property vs Debt’ process in September-October in two companies of Vallex Group – ‘Teghout’ CJSC and ‘Armenian Copper Program’ CJSC, owner of Alaverdi Copper Smelter.
The research was carried out by the laboratories of the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague as part of a project of environmental organizations Arnika from the Czech Republic and Yerevan based Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment with support from Ecolur informational portal and the Transition Promotion Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.
Remarks for editors:
Read the quoted reports:
See the gallery from the sampling: https://english.arnika.org/photogallery/in-armenia-among-ancient-monasteries-and-dangerous-mining
- The copper level found in sediments extracted from the river of Debed under the Alaverdi factory are thirty-one-times higher (2,200 mg/kg) than the ones detected above the town. The slowly decreasing figures further down the stream are then being interrupted by the confluenting creeks running from the mining areas – the Shnogh River polluted by the waste of Teghut mine exploitation and the Akhtala River polluted by the waste of Akhtala ore dressing combine, in which the highest measured levels were found – over 7,000 mg/kg – exceeding the pre-Alaverdi numbers even hundred times. The river of Debed flows through the whole region from South-West and over the borders to Georgia. Alongside the 152 kilometres in Armenia, it is being used by local farmers for gardens and orchards.
AWHHE representative participated in the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2), which took place from 19 to 23 November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conference was preceded on 17-18 November by preparatory meetings, including regional and NGO meetings. A series of regional meetings was held in preparation for COP2, including the meeting of the Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia region (16-17 October 2018 in Chisinau, Moldova).
The Minamata Convention bans new and phases out existing mercury mines, contains measures to control trade, releases, and air emissions, and regulates the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Delegates engaged with technical issues to further the implementation of the Convention. Delegates were able to agree on permanent arrangements for a stand-alone Secretariat, based in Geneva. COP2 also adopted decisions on, among others: cooperation with the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; rules of procedure for the Implementation and Compliance Committee; mercury waste thresholds; harmonized customs codes; contaminated sites; interim storage; capacity building, technical assistance, and technology transfer; and effectiveness evaluation.
The chemical chlorpyrifos has serious negative effects on our health — especially for children.
Exposure to it, even in small doses, can impact children’s brain development and hormonal systems. Scientists have linked it to developmental delays in children, working memory loss, and increased risk of autism.
So why is it all over our fruits and vegetables?
Chlorpyrifos is still widely used as a pesticide throughout Europe. In fact, it’s one of the pesticides most commonly detected in fruits and vegetables across the continent. It’s been found in soil and, in Spain, even water.
Now the governments of the European Union are deciding whether to relicense this dangerous chemical. An important meeting will take place on October 23 and we’re determined not to let that happen — and we’re not the only ones. We’re joining an all-star coalition with the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Générations Futures, Ecologistas en Acción and the European and German branch of the Pesticides Action Network to launch an emergency campaign to ban chlorpyrifos. Will you help stop this terrible pesticide?
Tell the EU to ban chlorpyrifos and work towards a toxic-free future for our kids and our environment.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are supposed to be good for us.
But too much of our food now sold in Europe is laced with chlorpyrifos, which can cause brain damage and developmental delays in children – even in very small amounts.
Scientists say these neurological effects “appear to be permanent, irreversible, and lifelong.”
Chlorpyrifos’ current EU license expires in January 2019. Right now, European authorities are reviewing the industry’s renewal request for the pesticide. But key research is missing in this reviewing process — especially the pesticide’s link to brain damage.
This is our chance to stop a new license from being issued — but we need your support today to do it.
We’re up against some serious lobbying power from the pesticide megacorps. Dow, the main corporation behind the renewal request, reportedly spent over 3 million euros to lobby European politicians on pesticide-related issues in 2017 alone.
That same year, Dow’s influence convinced the Trump administration to reverse a ban on agricultural use of chlorpyrifos in the United States, against the warnings of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own scientists — and the US Court of Appeals has since ordered the EPA to uphold the ban.
We can win against their million-euro lobbying, as we’ve done time and time again, and get rid of chlorpyrifos for good. But it will take all of us.
Tell the EU to listen to science over pesticide lobbyists and ban this toxic chemical from Europe.
Incredible members like you have taken on the pesticide industry before and won.
In France, your donations helped our partner Générations Futures win the suspension of Dow’s bee-killing pesticide. We’ll never match the industry’s cash, but we can fight back with the overwhelming numbers of parents who want to keep their kids safe and the environment clean — and the many others who just want our governments to put human well-being over corporate greed. Are you one of them?
Campaign launched by:
Свинец содержащая краска – один из хорошо известных источников
воздействия свинца на здоровье детей. Начиная с 2009 года, проведено
более 100 исследований краски, купленной в 58 странах. Результаты
анализов показали высокое содержание свинца в красках, широко доступных
на рынках развивающихся стран и стран с переходной экономикой.
Международная сеть по ликвидации стойких органических загрязнителей
(IPEN) провела большинство из этих исследований, проанализировав более 3
300 видов масляных красок. Многие из них содержали свинец на уровне выше
10 000 частей на миллион (мг/кг) сухого веса краски.
На сайте IPEN приведена карта, на которой представлены последние данные
содержания свинца в краске, полученные IPEN, начиная с 2009года.
Кликнув на кружок на карте, вы получите данные по странам. Чем темнее
цвет кружка, тем выше процентное содержание свинца в краске,
обнаруженное в ходе исследования.
Напомним, что Глобальный альянс по отказу от применения свинца в краске
наиболее прогрессивный стандарт содержания свинца в краске на уровне 90
частей на миллион.
Интерактивная карта содержания свинца в краске по странам размещена
Новости “Эко-Согласия” по химической безопасности
Координационный центр IPEN в ВЕКЦА
Environmental health researchers released alarming evidence  today that toxic brominated flame retardants, hazardous chemicals from electronic waste that are known to disrupt thyroid function and cause neurological and attention deficits in children, are contaminating recycled plastics in consumer products across Europe.
The report release coincides with a crucial vote in the European Parliament to establish and re-evaluate recycling exemptions for POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) in waste and with the European Commission’s revision of POPs waste limits. Both decisions will determine whether toxic waste materials, such as e-waste containing brominated flame retardants, will be allowed in recycled plastics.
The study, an analysis of 430 plastic children’s toys, hair accessories, and kitchen utensils purchased in 19 European countries showed that 109 (25%) had elevated levels of bromine, indicating potential presence of a brominated flame retardant. The 109 samples were then analysed further for concentrations of specific brominated flame retardant chemicals which showed 50 (46%) would fail to meet the EU POPs Regulation if the product was composed of new plastic rather than recycled plastic.
“Our research found flame retardants chemicals called PBDEs and HBCDs in overwhelming majority of analysed samples. This is worrying as these two chemicals are among the 28 most hazardous chemicals on the planet. The only way to protect people from hazardous chemicals in recycled e-waste is to close the recycling loophole and keep toxic waste out of recycled plastic,” said lead study author Jitka Strakova, Arnika’s researcher specialised in POPs.
READ THE REPORT Toxic Loophole: Recycling Hazardous Waste into New Products
Both chemical groups are currently found in e-waste. PBDEs are a group of chemical flame retardants that exist in the casings and wire insulation of old electronics and appliances and HBCD appeared in polystyrene foams and plastics for electronics and cars.
Stressing that recycling exemptions for PBDEs amounts to a double standard for plastics, the researchers called on the EU to guarantee that recycled plastics meet the same standards as new plastics.
“No one would knowingly give children toxic waste to play with,” said Genon Jensen, co-author of the study and Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “The EU currently allows exemptions so that some of the most hazardous materials in plastics can be recycled. But right now, MEPs have the joint power to close this toxic recycling loophole to protect people’s health.”
Cleaning up recycled plastics could be achieved with strict limits for these chemicals in waste so that all plastics containing PBDEs are classified as POPs waste and treated as such. This means separating and decontaminating plastics from electronic waste.
Stricter controls on POPs waste, also known in policy lingo as “Low POPs Content” waste limits, would stop the recycling of toxic plastics. A number of environmental health advocates urge the EU to adopt a limit of 50 ppm for PBDEs and 100 ppm for HBCD in the European POPs waste law and in the international Basel and Stockholm Conventions. Currently the European Union is promoting a plan  to codify 20 times more toxic material into the waste stream with a proposal that would allow 1,000 ppm for PBDEs and HBCD to be recycled from toxic e-waste.
“The devil is in the detail. The specific concentrations set which waste is considered to be a POPs waste and cannot be recycled or exported to other countries for recycling. Ultimately, it is this number that determines whether your child is at risk. Toxic plastics with brominated flame retardants over 50 ppm should be considered POPs waste,” said Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme Executive Director and IPEN Dioxin, PCBs and Waste Working Group co-chair Jindrich Petrlik. “Only a strict limit for POPs in waste can close the toxic loophole as it would require toxic plastics to be removed from the waste recycling stream.”
Advocates stress that the loophole in the current legislation is not only bad for Europe, it is bad for the developing world as well. Europe now sends 15 – 50% of its e-waste either illegally or as used electronics, with hazardous levels of brominated flame retardants, to less developed countries in Asia and Africa, where it continues to persist and contaminate in the form of recycled plastics.
“Consumers do not know that new products made of recycled plastics can contain hazardous chemicals that were already banned a long time ago,” said Manuel Fernández, the chemical expert of BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany. “The EU should create maximum transparency and traceability of especially hazardous chemicals in products so that the downstream users, recyclers and consumers know what kind of dangerous chemicals might be in the products they intend to use and can opt for safer alternatives.”
The authors of the report are urging Members of European Parliament to vote against any exemptions for recycled plastics during the plenary session that is expected to take place at the earliest 22 October and outlined their concerns in a letter to the EP Environment committee .
The research on the Toxic Loophole: Recycling Hazardous Waste into New Products study was conducted by Arnika, HEAL and IPEN. Samples were collected in the following countries: European Union Member States (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden) and surrounding Central and Eastern European countries (Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Russia, and Serbia) between April and July 2018.
Notes to editor:
 Link to the ‘Toxic Loophole’ study and to the Executive Summary
The live stream of the press conference presenting the study results and policy implications can be viewed here
A photo gallery of all products tested can be found online here
 Basel Convention: Comments received from Parties and others on low POP content values (www.basel.int)
 Response to the EU Recast Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants (www.env.health.org)
The letter asks for adoption of progressive limits for PBDEs and HBCD in recycled plastics and the setting of strict, scientifically sound limits for low POPs content levels to effectively protect human health and the environment from POPs and ensure a clean circular economy.
Arnika Association is a Czech non-governmental organisation established in 2001. Its mission is to protect nature and a healthy environment for future generations both at home and abroad. Since its beginnings, Arnika has worked on protection of consumers from chemically hazardous products. Lately, Arnika has been conducting its own research focusing on toxic chemicals in consumer products, mainly toys and childcare products. Arnika serves as the Regional Hub for Central and Eastern Europe for IPEN.
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is the leading not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects human health in the European Union (EU) and beyond. HEAL works to shape laws and policies that promote planetary and human health and protect those most affected by pollution, and raise awareness on the benefits of environmental action for health. HEAL’s EU Transparency Register Number: 00723343929-96
IPEN is a global network of more than 500 health and environmental public interest organizations in over 100 countries, working to eliminate the world’s most harmful chemicals to create a toxics-free future. IPEN’s EU Transparency Register Number: 157269723532-97
PHOTO: Markéta Šedivá / Arnika
16:29 October 16, 2018
Представитель НПО Женщины Армении за здоровье и здоровую окружающую среду (AWHHE) приняла участие в трехдневном региональном семинаре организаций – членов Международной сети по ликвидации стойких органических загрязнителей (IPEN) региона Восточной Европы, Кавказа и Центральной Азии (ВЕКЦА). Семинар был проведен 26-28 августа 2018 года в Кыргызстане совместно IPEN, Центром “Эко-Согласие” и Независимой экологической экспертизой (Кыргызстан). Программа и материалы семинара размещены на вебсайте НПО «Эко-Согласие» (http://www.ecoaccord.org/ ), являющегося координационным центром IPEN в ВЕКЦА.
Yerevan, 10 September 2018. Solar energy is the most important direction in the development of the economy. To date, it is considered to be a very attractive sector for business where investments in just a short time are paid back.
Although Armenia has not even been considered a country of business development opportunities yet, however, experts estimate that in the next few years Armenia can become a regional leader in the field of solar energy use.
Rapid cost recovery and low risks make this sector extremely attractive for investments, and the excess of solar resource increases the availability of these technologies. Some years ago a few companies in Armenia were engaged in solar energy. Today there are dozens of them.
On the initiative of the “Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment” NGO (AWHHE) an international seminar dedicated to renewable energy use and environmental protection was organized on September 10, 2009 at “Nairi” Hall of “Ani Plaza” Hotel. The event was organized within the framework of the solar energy project entitled “Solar Energy for Low-Carbon Sustainable Lifestyles in Solak, Aygavan and Malishka Rural Communities of Armenia”. It is funded through the 10YFP Trust Fund established by UNEP. The project was selected through an open 10YFP Trust Fund Call for Proposals for Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Programme with the financial support of the Government of Japan.
Experts from Japan, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Chile, as well as representatives of ministries and agencies, civil society, business sector, target communities and mass media participated in the seminar.
President of AWHHE NGO Elena Manvelyan mentioned in her speech that some countries completely are moving toward the use of alternative energy sources, such as
energy of the sun, wind, water, earth’s interior and biogas. In some regions, the production of “green” energy exceeds traditional energy production volumes. Armenia, which has about 300 sunny days a year, should take its place among the countries that give priority to the use of “green” energy.
Research Manager of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) Atsushi Watabe, expressed his satisfaction with the implementation of the project. He mentioned, that the implemented by AWHHE project on alternative solar energy is an excellent model not only for Armenia but also for the rest of the world to promote sustainable ways of living. The workshop is a great opportunity to revisit what has been achieved and learned, and to explore the ways forward.
During the seminar the experts from abroad presented the experience gained by their countries in the field of alternative energy.
Marcelo Matus, Subdirector of the Energy Center in the University of Chile, shared the experience in the use of geothermal energy for the promotion of sustainable production model in rural areas in Chile.
Rostislav Musiy, senior staff scientist of the Department of Physical Chemistry of Fossil Fuels of the NAS of Ukraine expressed a hope that effective cooperation with Armenian organizations in the field of green energy will promote the protection of the nature and climate of our planet.
Dzimitry Buronkin, an expert from Belarus noted, that in Belarus there is a good experience of cooperation between the public organization and local authorities of the Braslav region in preparation for the district strategies to achieve climate neutrality. Thanks to the project, in Braslav the use of local fuel (wood chips) and share of renewable energy in the overall energy balance increased, which helped bring the region closer to climatic neutrality.
During the seminar, Knarik Grigoryan, an expert from AWHHE, presented the lessons learned as a result of the activities implemented within the framework of the project, as well as CO2 emissions reduction. She underlined that the project contributed to the improvement of four aspects of sustainable development: environmental, social, economic and cultural. At the end of the seminar, the results of the group work were presented and relevant recommendations were elaborated.
The project lab entitled «Women Empowerment in Green Business Development» presented stories of women entrepreneurs from around the world – agents of change driving the green economy transition and creating jobs. It built on the experience of the SWITCH programmes in Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean and the 10-YFP Sustainable Lifestyles Education (SLE) Programme, in developing partnerships with the private sector to shift behaviour and practice, towards sustainable consumption and production patterns. The lab generated a debate on capacitating women as local business leaders, with a variety of roles, ranging from being enablers of new eco-entrepreneurship to providing new trends in sustainable consumption. The session also focused on the need for policy support to scale-up best practices and further support women as promoters of green entrepreneurship. The SLE programme was represented by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), partner of the One Planet Network – the network of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
In the 6th Central and Eastern Europe regional meeting of SAICM which was held 19 to 21 February 2018 in Lodz, Poland, AWHHE was part of the team of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN). During the meeting, panel discussions were focused on countries’ experiences, including financial mechanisms, success stories, lessons learned, and exchanges of information on scientific, technological and technical cooperation. During these sessions, IPEN colleagues Jasminka Randjelovic (ALHem, Serbia), Denys Pavlovskyi (MAMA-86, Ukraine), Gohar Khojayan (AWHHE, Armenia), and Muazama Burkhanova (Foundation in Support of Civil Initiatives, Tajikistan) were among the presenters. More information is available on IPEN website http://ipen.org/site/saicm-regional-meetings-2018.
Photo 1: AWHHE representative participates at the IPEN preparatory meeting for CEE Regional SAICM Meeting.