|Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe (FP)|
Barbados needs to do more to safely manage its chemicals for the protection of the citizens’ health and their environment.
Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, made it clear that chemicals were extremely useful, as they contributed to the country’s economic development and brought about improvements in human welfare.
He made this point while addressing a National GHS (Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals) workshop at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today.
"Many of us seem not to realise the negative effects that these very chemicals can have on our health, and on our environment if not properly used. They can contaminate our ground water, pollute our air, and make us very sick," he warned.
He said a system through which chemical hazards were identified and communicated was fundamental in effectively managing chemicals.
"In recognition of this fact, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) undertook a project with assistance from the United Nations Institute for Training Research, to identify the actions necessary to implement the Global Hazardous System in Barbados."
Senior Environmental Technical Officer at the EPD, Ingrid Lavine, explained that over the years the EPD department had sought ways to address chemical management as it affected the country.
One such initiative was the development of the National Implementation Plan for the Management of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in 2004, to minimise the chances of them affecting people in the community.
But, she said, that initiative addressed specific areas of chemical management, resulting in the EPD, with assistance from UNITAR, undertaking a project called: Updating a National Chemicals Management Profile, Developing a SAICM Capacity Assessment and Holding of a National SAICM Priority Setting workshop in Barbados.
That project, she noted, sought to strengthen mechanisms existing in Barbados for the management of chemicals from manufacturing or importation through disposal, and also identified actions which could be taken to improve the situation.
One such action was for the implementation of the GHS in Barbados. Ms. Lavine added that the present project to develop a national implementation strategy for the GHS sought to further strengthen mechanisms for chemical management in the country.
She explained that preparation of the strategy involved conducting situation and gap analyses prior to the development of the draft national implementation strategy. It also involved the collection of baseline information which was used to document the existing national infrastructure and capacities for chemical classification and hazard communication related to GHS implementation.
Ms. Lavine also pointed out that the draft national implementation strategy included action plans for each sector.
Participants in the workshop are expected to review and prioritise strategies and action plans for the final document.