Caribbean Coun­tries Re­ceive US$8 Mil­lion to Re­duce Health Risks from Toxic Chem­i­cals

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Ex­po­sure to toxic chem­i­cals found in house­hold clean­ing prod­ucts, pro­cessed foods and even cloth­ing could se­verely dam­age a per­son’s health. So said Dr. Ah­mad Khan, Di­rec­tor, Basel Con­ven­tion Re­gional Cen­tre for Train­ing and Tech­nol­ogy Trans­fer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean) who also 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, he em­pha­sized the need for the Caribbean region to make the man­age­ment of toxic chem­i­cals to pro­tect hu­man health and the en­vi­ron­ment a pri­or­ity.

Rec­og­niz­ing 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 dol­lars to sup­port the pro­ject. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will im­ple­ment the nec­es­sary ac­tiv­i­ties to as­sist eight Caribbean ter­ri­to­ries in up­dat­ing 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 im­por­tantly 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. In his words: “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 BCRCCaribbean held a re­gional work­shop ear­lier this week in Trinidad to ini­ti­ate an up­date of the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries’ NIPs, POPs in­ven­to­ries and re­lated ca­pac­ity devel­op­ment. Dur­ing the work­shop coun­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives pre­sented an up­date on the sta­tus of im­ple­men­ta­tion of their NIP Action Plans.

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

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