regional and governmental chemical programmes, should be promoted.
19.7. Increased coordination of United Nations bodies and other international organizations involved in
chemicals assessment and management should be further promoted. Within the framework of IPCS,
an intergovernmental meeting, convened by the Executive Director of UNEP, was held in London in
December 1991 to further explore this matter (see paras. 19.75 and 19.76).
19.8. The broadest possible awareness of chemical risks is a prerequisite for achieving chemical safety.
The principle of the right of the community and of workers to know those risks should be recognized.
However, the right to know the identity of hazardous ingredients should be balanced with industry's
right to protect confidential business information. (Industry, as referred to in this chapter, shall be
taken to include large industrial enterprises and transnational corporations as well as domestic
industries.) The industry initiative on responsible care and product stewardship should be developed
and promoted. Industry should apply adequate standards of operation in all countries in order not to
damage human health and the environment.
19.9. There is international concern that part of the international movement of toxic and dangerous
products is being carried out in contravention of existing national legislation and international
instruments, to the detriment of the environment and public health of all countries, particularly
19.10. In resolution 44/226 of 22 December 1989, the General Assembly requested each regional
commission, within existing resources, to contribute to the prevention of the illegal traffic in toxic
and dangerous products and wastes by monitoring and making regional assessments of that illegal
traffic and its environmental and health implications. The Assembly also requested the regional
commissions to interact among themselves and to cooperate with the United Nations Environment
Programme, with a view to maintaining efficient and coordinated monitoring and assessment of the
illegal traffic in toxic and dangerous products and wastes.
A. Expanding and accelerating international assessment of chemical risks
19.11. Assessing the risks to human health and the environment hazards that a chemical may cause is a
prerequisite to planning for its safe and beneficial use. Among the approximately 100,000 chemical
substances in commerce and the thousands of substances of natural origin with which human beings
come into contact, many appear as pollutants and contaminants in food, commercial products and the
various environmental media. Fortunately, exposure to most chemicals (some 1,500 cover over 95
per cent of total world production) is rather limited, as most are used in very small amounts.
However, a serious problem is that even for a great number of chemicals characterized by high-
volume production, crucial data for risk assessment are often lacking. Within the framework of the
OECD chemicals programme such data are now being generated for a number of chemicals.
19.12. Risk assessment is resource-intensive. It could be made cost-effective by strengthening
international cooperation and better coordination, thereby making the best use of available resources
and avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. However, each nation should have a critical mass of
technical staff with experience in toxicity testing and exposure analysis, which are two important
components of risk assessment.
19.13. The objectives of this programme area are:
a. To strengthen international risk assessment. Several hundred priority chemicals or groups
of chemicals, including major pollutants and contaminants of global significance, should
be assessed by the year 2000, using current selection and assessment criteria;
b. To produce guidelines for acceptable exposure for a greater number of toxic chemicals,
based on peer review and scientific consensus distinguishing between health- or
environment-based exposure limits and those relating to socio-economic factors.
(a) Management-related activities
19.14. Governments, through the cooperation of relevant international organizations and industry, where
a. Strengthen and expand programmes on chemical risk assessment within the United
Nations system IPCS (UNEP, ILO, WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of
the United Nations (FAO), together with other organizations, including the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based on an agreed approach to
data-quality assurance, application of assessment criteria, peer review and linkages to risk
management activities, taking into account the precautionary approach;
b. Promote mechanisms to increase collaboration among Governments, industry, academia
and relevant non-governmental organizations involved in the various aspects of risk
assessment of chemicals and related processes, in particular the promoting and
coordinating of research activities to improve understanding of the mechanisms of action
of toxic chemicals;
c. Encourage the development of procedures for the exchange by countries of their
assessment reports on chemicals with other countries for use in national chemical
(b) Data and information
19.15. Governments, through the cooperation of relevant international organizations and industry, where
a. Give high priority to hazard assessment of chemicals, that is, of their intrinsic properties
as the appropriate basis for risk assessment;
b. Generate data necessary for assessment, building, inter alia, on programmes of IPCS
(UNEP, WHO, ILO), FAO, OECD and EC and on established programmes other regions
and Governments. Industry should participate actively.
19.16. Industry should provide data for substances produced that are needed specifically for the
assessment of potential risks to human health and the environment. Such data should be made
available to relevant national competent authorities and international bodies and other interested
parties involved in hazard and risk assessment, and to the greatest possible extent to the public also,
taking into account legitimate claims of confidentiality.
(c) International and regional cooperation and coordination
19.17. Governments, through the cooperation of relevant international organizations and industry, where
a. Develop criteria for priority-setting for chemicals of global concern with respect to
b. Review strategies for exposure assessment and environmental monitoring to allow for the
best use of available resources, to ensure compatibility of data and to encourage coherent
national and international strategies for that assessment.
Means of implementation
(a) Financial and cost evaluation
19.18. Most of the data and methods for chemical risk assessment are generated in the developed
countries and an expansion and acceleration of the assessment work will call for a considerable
increase in research and safety testing by industry and research institutions. The cost projections
address the needs to strengthen the capacities of relevant United Nations bodies and are based on
current experience in IPCS. It should be noted that there are considerable costs, often not possible to
quantify, that are not included. These comprise costs to industry and Governments of generating the
safety data underlying the assessments and costs to Governments of providing background
documents and draft assessment statements to IPCS, the International Register of Potentially Toxic
Chemicals (IRPTC) and OECD. They also include the cost of accelerated work in non-United
Nations bodies such as OECD and EC.
19.19. The Conference secretariat has estimated the average total annual cost (1993-2000) of
implementing the activities of this programme to be about $30 million from the international
community on grant or concessional terms. These are indicative and order-of-magnitude estimates
only and have not been reviewed by Governments. Actual costs and financial terms, including any
that are non-concessional, will depend upon, inter alia, the specific strategies and programmes
Governments decide upon for implementation.
(b) Scientific and technological means
19.20. Major research efforts should be launched in order to improve methods for assessment of
chemicals as work towards a common framework for risk assessment and to improve procedures for
using toxicological and epidemiological data to predict the effects of chemicals on human health and
the environment, so as to enable decision makers to adopt adequate policies and measures to reduce
risks posed by chemicals.
19.21. Activities include:
a. Strengthening research on safe/safer alternatives to toxic chemicals that pose an
unreasonable and otherwise unmanageable risk to the environment or human health and
to those that are toxic, persistent and bio-accumulative and that cannot be adequately
b. Promotion of research on, and validation of, methods constituting a replacement for those
using test animals (thus reducing the use of animals for testing purposes);
c. Promotion of relevant epidemiological studies with a view to establishing a cause-and-
effect relationship between exposure to chemicals and the occurrence of certain diseases;
d. Promotion of ecotoxicological studies with the aim of assessing the risks of chemicals to
(c) Human resource development
19.22. International organizations, with the participation of Governments and non-governmental
organizations, should launch training and education projects involving women and children, who are
at greatest risk, in order to enable countries, and particularly developing countries, to make maximum
national use of international assessments of chemical risks.
19.23. International organizations, building on past, present and future assessment work, should support
countries, particularly developing countries, in developing and strengthening risk assessment
capabilities at national and regional levels to minimize, and as far as possible control and prevent,
risk in the manufacturing and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals. Technical cooperation and
financial support or other contributions should be given to activities aimed at expanding and
accelerating the national and international assessment and control of chemical risks to enable the best
choice of chemicals.
B. Harmonization of classification and labelling of chemicals
Basis for action
19.24. Adequate labelling of chemicals and the dissemination of safety data sheets such as ICSCs
(International Chemical Safety Cards) and similarly written materials, based on assessed hazards to
health and environment, are the simplest and most efficient way of indicating how to handle and use
19.25. For the safe transport of dangerous goods, including chemicals, a comprehensive scheme
elaborated within the United Nations system is in current use. This scheme mainly takes into account
the acute hazards of chemicals.
19.26. Globally harmonized hazard classification and labelling systems are not yet available to promote
the safe use of chemicals, inter alia, at the workplace or in the home. Classification of chemicals can
be made for different purposes and is a particularly important tool in establishing labelling systems.
There is a need to develop harmonized hazard classification and labelling systems, building on
19.27. A globally harmonized hazard classification and compatible labelling system, including material
safety data sheets and easily understandable symbols, should be available, if feasible, by the year
(a) Management-related activities
19.28. Governments, through the cooperation of relevant international organizations and industry, where
appropriate, should launch a project with a view to establishing and elaborating a harmonized
classification and compatible labelling system for chemicals for use in all United Nations official
languages including adequate pictograms. Such a labelling system should not lead to the imposition
of unjustified trade barriers. The new system should draw on current systems to the greatest extent
possible; it should be developed in steps and should address the subject of comp atibility with labels
of various applications.
(b) Data and information
19.29. International bodies including, inter alia, IPCS (UNEP, ILO, WHO), FAO, the International
Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of
Dangerous Goods and OECD, in cooperation with regional and national authorities having existing
classification and labelling and other information-dissemination systems, should establish a
coordinating group to:
a. Evaluate and, if appropriate, undertake studies of existing hazard classification and
information systems to establish general principles for a globally harmonized system;
b. Develop and implement a work plan for the establishment of a globally harmonized
hazard classification system. The plan should include a description of the tasks to be
completed, deadline for completion and assignment of tasks to the participants in the
c. Elaborate a harmonized hazard classification system;
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested