Re­gion re­ceives US$8m to re­duce toxic chem­i­cal dan­gers

Jamaica Gleaner - - HEALTH -

EX­PO­SURE TO toxic chem­i­cals found in house­hold clean­ing prod­ucts, pro­cessed foods and even cloth­ing can se­verely dam­age a per­son’s health. Dr Ah­mad Khan, di­rec­tor, Basel Con­ven­tion Re­gional Cen­tre for Train­ing and Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer for the Caribbean (BCRCCaribbean) stated that some pes­ti­cides, clean­ing agents and in­dus­trial chem­i­cals con­tain haz­ardous prop­er­ties, which can cause can­cer, devel­op­men­tal de­lays, dys­func­tion of the re­pro­duc­tive or­gans and re­duced im­mu­nity.

Dr Khan ex­plained that one par­tic­u­lar group of these toxic chem­i­cals is re­ferred to as per­sis­tent or­ganic pol­lu­tants (POPs). He added that ex­po­sure to POPs can be through di­rect con­tact with the chem­i­cals, con­sump­tion of con­tam­i­nated foods, or en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­po­sure (by air, wa­ter and soil). In light of this, Dr Khan em­pha­sised the need for the Caribbean re­gion to make the man­age­ment of toxic chem­i­cals to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment a pri­or­ity.

Recog­nis­ing the im­por­tance of this is­sue, the BCRC-Caribbean, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the United Na­tions In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNIDO), pre­pared a project doc­u­ment out­lin­ing the work re­quired to strengthen the ca­pac­ity of Caribbean coun­tries to man­age POPs. They also ap­proached the Global En­vi­ron­ment Fa­cil­ity (GEF) and were suc­cess­ful in ac­quir­ing ap­prox­i­mately US$8 mil­lion to sup­port the project. The Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA) will im­ple­ment the nec­es­sary ac­tiv­i­ties to as­sist eight Caribbean ter­ri­to­ries up­date their na­tional im­ple­men­ta­tion plans (NIPs) for POPs man­age­ment, which in­cludes the con­duct of in-coun­try POPs in­ven­to­ries and re­lated ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment.

Dr Khan said: “The BCRC-Caribbean is com­mit­ted to de­liver ser­vices to our mem­ber par­ties un­der the four ‘chem­i­cals’ con­ven­tions (Basel, Rot­ter­dam, Stock­holm, Mi­na­mata) that gov­ern the en­vi­ron­men­tally sound man­age­ment of haz­ardous wastes and chem­i­cals. Through the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of this re­gional project, we will be able to es­tab­lish the ex­tent of new POPs in our coun­tries and, more im­por­tant, de­velop ac­tion plans to tar­get the elim­i­na­tion and/or re­duc­tion in the use of these par­tic­u­larly harmful chem­i­cals.”

CARPHA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Dr C. James Hospedales also pledged his com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing the re­gion’s risk. He said: “The ex­e­cu­tion of this project will help strengthen the ca­pac­i­ties of mem­ber states to bet­ter man­age haz­ardous chem­i­cals with a view to im­ple­ment­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally sound mech­a­nisms for the stor­age, aban­don­ment of use, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of al­ter­na­tives to use and fi­nal dis­posal/ de­struc­tion of these types of chem­i­cals.”


In ad­di­tion, the BCRC-Caribbean is host­ing a re­gional work­shop this week (Novem­ber 8-10) in Trinidad and Tobago to ini­ti­ate an up­date of the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries’ NIPs, POPs in­ven­to­ries and re­lated ca­pac­ity de­vel­op­ment. Dur­ing the work­shop, con­ducted by CARPHA, coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives will present an up­date on the sta­tus of im­ple­men­ta­tion of their NIP ac­tion plans.

The re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives will re­ceive train­ing on the as­sess­ment of ‘new’ POPs. CARPHA experts will fol­low up the work­shop by as­sist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions in each par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­try to up­date the NIPs.

Coun­tries ben­e­fit­ing from this project are An­tigua and Bar­buda, Bar­ba­dos, Belize, St Kitts and Ne­vis, St Lu­cia, St Vin­cent and The Gre­nadines, Suri­name, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Stock­holm Con­ven­tion on Per­sis­tent Or­ganic Pol­lu­tants is a global treaty to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment from chem­i­cals that re­main in­tact in the en­vi­ron­ment for long pe­ri­ods, be­come widely dis­trib­uted ge­o­graph­i­cally, ac­cu­mu­late in the fatty tis­sue of hu­mans and wildlife, and have harmful impacts on hu­man health or on the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Basel Con­ven­tion on the Con­trol of Trans­bound­ary Move­ments of Haz­ardous Wastes and their Dis­posal is the most com­pre­hen­sive global en­vi­ron­men­tal treaty on haz­ardous and other wastes. It aims to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment against the ad­verse ef­fects re­sult­ing from the gen­er­a­tion, man­age­ment, trans­bound­ary move­ments and dis­posal of haz­ardous and other wastes.

CARPHA is the re­gion’s col­lec­tive re­sponse to strength­en­ing and re­ori­ent­ing our health-sys­tem ap­proach to ad­dress the chang­ing na­ture of pub­lic health chal­lenges.

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