Alhagie Momodou Canteh, Director and Coordinator of Technical Services Network (DSTN) National Environment Agency (NEA) have said that the production and use of chemicals are fundamental to the economic activities and the development of all countries, whether industrialized or developing.
“Directly or indirectly, chemicals affect the lives of all humans and are essential to our food supply (fertilizers, pesticides, food additives, packaging) our health (pharmaceuticals, cleaning materials), and our daily existence (appliance, fuel etc),” he added.
Canteh was speaking at the opening of a two-day training of trainers on “Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, and the interpretation of GHS hazard communication tools” organised by the NEA at Paradise Suites Hotel on April 27-28, 2011.
The training, which brought together religious bodies, regional directors of agriculture and the department of basic and secondary education, was principally meant to train individuals to serve as change agents in various regions across the country for the safe handling and usage of chemicals in The Gambia.
Mr. Canteh however noted that there are potential adverse effects to human health and the environment from the use of and conveyed to the user in a format that is easy to understand.
According to him, one important tool for addressing the need for safe chemicals management is the GHS of classification and labeling of chemicals.
He said the GHS has the ultimate goal of ensuring that information on chemical hazard is made available to workers and consumers in a harmonized and comprehensible format (on label and Safety Data Sheets) in countries around the world.
“Classification is the starting point for the GHS. Once a chemical has been classified, the hazard(s) must be communicated to target audience. The main tools of chemical hazard communication are labels and safety data sheets (SDS) that contain the hazard information in the form of hazard pictograms, signal words and other communication elements,” he said.
In his opening remark on behalf of the Minister of Forestry and the Environment, the
Permanent Secretary, Nancy Nyang said the international community is increasingly recognizing GHS of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals as an important tool for the implementation and of International Chemicals and Waste Management Agreements (SAICM).
She said The Gambia does not manufacture or formulate chemical compounds but heavily imports agricultural, industrial, and consumer chemicals to meet the challenges faced from rapid population growth and ensuing negative trends in living conditions and the environment.
“The widespread use of chemicals has resulted in the development of sector-specific regulations (transport, production, workplace, agriculture, trade, and consumer products).
Having readily available information on the hazardous properties of chemicals, and recommended control measures, allows the production, transport, use and disposal of chemicals to be managed safely,” she said.
She recognises the vulnerability of a population with a low level of awareness, and The Gambia, through collaboration with partners, has over the years taken courageous steps towards the development of an institutional framework for the sound management of chemicals.Source - The Voice