According to latest estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) Deaths due to exposure to hazardous chemicals worldwide rose in 2019.
GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Pollution and Environmental degradation), GS-II: International Relations (Internal Treaties and Agreements)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Introduction to Hazardous Chemicals
- Highlights of the WHO report on Hazardous Chemicals
- Lead Poisoning
- International Conventions and Agreements regarding Chemicals
Introduction to Hazardous Chemicals
- A hazardous chemical is a chemical that has properties with the potential to do harm to human or animal health, the environment, or capable of damaging property.
- Hazardous chemicals are categorized as follows:
- Flammable or explosive (e.g., petroleum, TNT, plastic explosives)
- Irritating or corrosive to skin, lungs, and eyes (e.g., acids, alkali, paints, fumes)
- Toxic chemicals (e.g., carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, cyanide, heavy metals).
Highlights of the WHO report on Hazardous Chemicals
- Deaths due to exposure to hazardous chemicals worldwide rose almost 30% in 2019 from what they were in 2016.
- Two million people died due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in 2019 and around 5000 people died every day due to unintentional exposure to chemicals.
- Lead Poisoning was responsible for nearly half of the deaths in 2019.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from occupational exposure to particulates (dust, fumes and gas) and cancers from occupational exposure to carcinogens (arsenic, asbestos and benzene), too accounted for a substantial share of the preventable deaths.
- In 2019, 53 million disability-adjusted life-years were lost (Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) is the sum of the number of years of life lost due to premature death and a weighted measure of the years lived with disability due to a disease or injury.) This is an increase by over 19% since 2016.
- Lead is added to paints for various reasons, including enhancing the colour, reducing corrosion and decreasing the drying time.
- Lead exposure causes cardiovascular diseases (CVD), chronic kidney diseases and idiopathic intellectual disability.
- Just 41% of countries including India, have legally binding controls on the production, import, sale and use of lead paints.
- Approximately 800 million globally have blood lead levels at or above the permissible quantity (5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL) according UNICEF in 2020.
International Conventions and Agreements regarding Chemicals
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) on protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of POPs (i.e., toxic chemicals).
- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
- Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury and protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury and its compounds.
-Source: Down to Earth Magazine