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[From Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, June 1972.]

Identification and Control of Pollutants of Broad International Significance

A. Pollution Generally

Recommendation 70

It is recommended that Governments be mindful of activities in which there is an appreciable risk of effects on climate, and to this end:

  1. Carefully evaluate the likelihood and magnitude of climatic effects and disseminate their findings to the maximum extent feasible before embarking on such activities;

  2. Consult fully other interested States when activities carrying a risk of such effects are being contemplated or implemented.

Recommendation 71

It is recommended that Governments use the best practicable means available to minimize the release to the environment of toxic or dangerous substances, especially if they are persistent substances such as heavy metals and organochlorine compounds, until it has been demonstrated that their release will not give rise to unacceptable risks or unless their use is essential to human health or food production, in which case appropriate control measures should be applied.

Recommendation 72

It is recommended that in establishing standards for pollutants of international significance, Governments take into account the relevant standards proposed by competent international organizations, and concert with other concerned Governments and the competent international organizations in planning and carrying Out control programmes for pollutants distributed beyond the national jurisdiction from which they are released.

Recommendation 73

It is recommended that Governments actively support, and contribute to, international programmes to acquire knowledge for the assessment of pollutant sources, pathways, exposures and risks and that those Governments in a position to do so provide educational, technical and other forms of assistance to facilitate broad participation by countries regardless of their economic or technical advancement.

Recommendation 74

It is recommended that the Secretary-General, drawing on the resources of the entire United Nations system, and with the active support of Governments and appropriate scientific and other international bodies:

  1. Increase the capability of the United Nations system to provide awareness and advance warning of deleterious effects to human health and well being from man-made pollutants;

  2. Provide this information in a form, which is useful to policy-makers at the national level;

  3. Assist those Governments, which desire to incorporate these and other environmental factors into national planning processes;

  4. Improve the international acceptability of procedures for testing pollutants and contaminants by:

  5. International division of labour in carrying out the large-scale testing programmes needed;

  6. Development of international schedules of tests for evaluation of the environmental impact potential of specific contaminants or products. Such a schedule of tests should include consideration of both short-term and long-term effects of all kinds, and should be reviewed and brought up to date from time to time to take into account new knowledge and techniques;

  7. Development and implementation of an international intercalibration programme for sampling and analytical techniques to permit more meaningful comparisons of national data;

  • Develop plans for an International Registry of Data on Chemicals in the Environment based on a collection of available scientific data on the environmental behaviour of the most important man-made chemicals and containing production figures of the potentially most harmful chemicals, together with their pathways from factory via utilization to ultimate disposal or recirculation.

    Recommendation 75

    It is recommended that, without reducing in any way their attention to non-radioactive pollutants, Governments should:

    1. Explore with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization the feasibility of developing a registry of releases to the biosphere of significant quantities of radioactive materials;

    2. Support and expand, under the International Atomic Energy Agency and appropriate international organizations, international cooperation on radioactive waste problems, including problems of mining and tailings and also including coordination of plans for the siting of fuel reprocessing plants in relation to the siting of the ultimate storage areas, considering also the transportation problems.

    Recommendation 76

    It is recommended:

    1. That a major effort be undertaken to develop monitoring and both epidemiological and experimental research programmes providing data for early warning and prevention of the deleterious effects of the various environmental agents, acting singly or in collaboration, to which man is increasingly exposed, directly or indirectly, and for the assessment of their potential risks to human health, with particular regard to the risks of mutagenicity, teratogenicity and carcinogenicity. Such programmes should be guided and coordinated by the World Health Organization;

    2. That the World Health Organization coordinate the development and implementation of an appropriate international collection and dissemination system to correlate medical, environmental and family-history data;

    3. That Governments actively support and contribute to international programmes for research and development of guidelines concerning environmental factors in the work environment.

    Recommendation 77

    It is recommended that the World Health Organization, in collaboration with the relevant agencies, in the context of an approved programme, and with a view to suggesting necessary action, assist Governments, particularly those of developing countries, in undertaking coordinated programmes of monitoring of air and water and in establishing monitoring systems in areas where there may be a risk to health from pollution.

    Recommendation 78

    It is recommended that internationally coordinated programmes of research and monitoring of food contamination by chemical and biological agent be established and developed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, taking into account national programmes, and that the results of monitoring be expeditiously assembled, evaluated and made available so as to provide early information on rising trends of contamination and on levels that may be considered undesirable or may lead to unsafe human intakes.

    Recommendation 79

    It is recommended:

    1. That approximately 10 baseline stations be set up, with the consent of the States involved, in areas remote from all sources of pollution in order to monitor long-term global trends in atmospheric constituents and properties which may cause changes in meteorological properties, including climatic changes;

    2. That a much larger network of not less than 100 stations be set up, with the consent of the States involved, for monitoring properties and constituents of the atmosphere on a regional basis and especially changes in the distribution and concentration of contaminants;

    3. That these programmes be guided and coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization;

    4. That the World Meteorological Organization, in cooperation with the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), continue to carry out the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP), and if necessary establish new programmes to understand better the general circulation of the atmosphere and the causes of climatic changes whether these causes are natural or the result of man's activities.

    Recommendation 80

    It is recommended that the Secretary-General ensure:

    1. That research activities in terrestrial ecology be encouraged, Supported and coordinated through the appropriate agencies, so as to provide adequate knowledge of the inputs, movements, residence times and ecological effects of pollutants identified as critical;

    2. That regional and global networks of existing and, where necessary, new research stations, research centres, and biological reserves be designated or established within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) in all major ecological regions, to facilitate intensive analysis of the structure and functioning of ecosystems under natural or managed conditions;

    3. That the feasibility of using stations participating in this programme for surveillance of the effects of pollutants on ecosystems be investigated;

    4. That programmes such as the Man and the Biosphere Programme be used to the extent possible to monitor:

    5. the accumulation of hazardous compounds in biological and abiotic material at representative sites;

    6. the effect of such accumulation on the reproductive success and population size of selected species.

    Recommendation 81

    It is recommended that the World Health Organization, together with the international organizations concerned, continue to study, and establish, primary standards for the protection of the human organism, especially from pollutants that are common to air, water and food, as a basis for the establishment of derived working limits.

    Recommendation 82

    It is recommended that increased support be given to the Codex Alimentarius Commission to develop international standards for pollutants in food and a code of ethics for international food trade, and that the capabilities of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to assist materially and to guide developing countries in the field of food control be increased.

    Recommendation 83

    It is recommended that the appropriate United Nations agencies develop agreed procedures for setting derived working limits for common air and water contaminants.

    Recommendation 84

    It is recommended that Governments make available, through the International Referral System established in pursuance of recommendation 101 of this Conference, such information as may be requested on their pollution research and pollution control activities, including legislative and administrative arrangements, research on more efficient pollution control technology, and cost-benefit methodology.

    Recommendation 85

    It is recommended that any mechanism for coordinating and stimulating the actions of the different United Nations organs in connexion with environmental problems include among its functions:

    1. Development of an internationally accepted procedure for the identification of pollutants of international significance and for the definition of the degree and scope of international concern;

    2. Consideration of the appointment of appropriate intergovernmental, expert bodies to assess quantitatively the exposures, risks, pathways and sources of pollutants of international significance;

    3. Review and coordination of international cooperation for pollution control, ensuring in particular that needed measures shall be taken and that measures taken in regard to various media and sources shall be consistent with one another:

    4. Examination of the needs for technical assistance to Governments in the study of pollution problems particular those involving international distribution of pollutants;

    5. Encouragement of the establishment of consultation mechanisms for speedy implementation of concerted abatement programmes with particular emphasis on regional activities.