Controlling chemicals

Strengthening management of toxic chemicals
Every year, between 1,000 and 2,000 new organic and inorganic chemicals are added to some 100,000 already produced commercially. Though all chemicals are toxic, the vast majority are not provided with toxicity data. Waste which contains potentially toxic chemicals is usually disposed of in usual ways or under a general category "hazardous", which may not take account of the actually toxicity of the contents, or their synergistic potential in mixtures.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

In 2001, the European Union announced a new chemical management system called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals. This ended 26 years of a hopeless policy in which the EU was unable to gain knowledge of around 95,000 chemicals, most of which had been on the market for decades, and in which the risks posed by each chemical were managed separately and without respecting the need for precautionary control. Over a period of eleven years, 30,000 chemicals will be entered into this new system whereby all information has to be provided and only safe chemicals would continue to remain in the market. The costs are estimated at EUR 1-7 billion, which over 11 years is around 0.1% of the annual sales of the chemicals industry.

IPCS has four main projects to support national poison control programmes, which through a worldwide network of poison information centres and related medical and analytical toxicology facilities, provide information on a 24-hour basis.

Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies