A chemical allowed by the United States for treating headlice is one of nine chemicals that could face an international ban.
A review committee has proposed nine additions to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an international agreement overseeing the ban or restriction of chemicals that persist in the environment, can accumulate in living things and pose threats to humans and the environment.
The Stockholm Convention already includes 12 substances that have been almost entirely eliminated worldwide. The nine proposed additions have also been mostly banned or phased out, although one is still used for medical treatments in the United States and Canada.
Lindane has been used as both an insecticide and pharmaceutical treatment. It has been banned in more than 50 countries but still used as an insecticide in some developing countries. Although it's no longer used in agriculture in the U.S., it is still available as a second-line treatment for headlice and scabies.
The other chemicals under discussion include:
- Pentabromodiphenyl ether and octabromodiphenyl ether, flame retardants that have either been banned in countries that used to account for most of their use or are practically no longer manufactured.
- Chlordecone, an insecticide used in the U.S. until being banned in 1975.
- Alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, two chemical waste products from the manufacturing of Lindane.
- PFOS, a former ingredient in Scotchguard and stain repellants.
- Flame retardants hexabromobiphenyl and pentachlorobenzene.