“Dirty Dozen” chemicals to become “Toxic 21″?

May 5, 2009

 You need a catchy phrase if you’re going to ban 12 toxic chemicals almost no one has heard of and which have tongue-twisting names — such as chlordane and toxaphene.

So someone dreamt up the “Dirty Dozen” to describe the group of pesticides and other industrial chemicals outlawed by the U.N.’s 2001 Stockholm Convention.  The 12 were linked to damage to the nervous and immune systems, cancers and reproductive disorders.

I reckon that making the chemicals sound like a gang of outlaws helped ensure far wider public understanding of the Convention. High concentrations of some of the chemicals have even been found in people, plants and animals in the Arctic, far from industrial centres.

Now 150 nations are meeting this week in Geneva (for stories, click here and here) to consider adding another nine chemicals to the banned list — many of them with with even more eye-glazing names like alpha hexachlorocyclohexane or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid. The nine are found in products ranging from hairsprays to flame retardants in mattresses.

So what will they be called?

Maybe if the nine are added to the Dirty Dozen they might end up as the “Toxic 21″? 

But perhaps the Dirty Dozen name will stay on and the others will be called something like the “Noxious Nine”?

And what happens if countries don’t outlaw all the proposed nine — maybe there will be something like an “Awful Eight”, a “Filthy Five” or a “Foul Four”?

Any ideas?

(Photo:  A Nenets man leads reindeers near the village of Yar-Sale in the Yamal peninsula, some 2,150 km (1336 miles) northeast of Moscow, on February 25, 2008. The Nenets are indigenous people in Russia’s Arctic region north of the Urals. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (RUSSIA))


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Let’s name all of them up to a dozen anyway. Some possibilities:

Onery One
Treacherous Two
Terrible Three
Fearsome Four
Fatal Five
Septic Six
Serious Seven
Explosive Eight
Nasty Nine
Terrible Ten
Evil Eleven
Deadly Dozen

Beyond that…
Hazardous Hundred
Malignant Many

Posted by ray | Report as abusive

thanks Ray, sounds like you should be a U.N. negotiator!

Posted by Alister Doyle | Report as abusive

Would it be possible to see some articles on this site about the tens of thousands of chemicals that have never been tested on animals or humans by any government agency or independent panel? Many of these chemicals are widely used. I believe we would find the “Toxic 21″ are thousands short. The whole truth is not a luxury or some nebulous concern. It is a journalistic duty and obligation.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

How about the “Tritium Ten Thousand”?

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive