The hazardous waste in developing nations - Seeker's Thoughts

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Monday, 17 June 2019

The hazardous waste in developing nations



We have created some 140,000 new chemicals since the 1950s. Of those, less than half of the top 5,000 most commonly used substances have been properly tested for safety and toxicity.







 Many, such as DDT (which lead to the near eradication of birds) and chlorofluorocarbons (which almost destroyed Earth’s protective ozone layer) only revealed their harmful nature by nearly killing us. In short, things look pretty bleak.



The Concept of Environmental Racism

In 1987, when the concept of environmental racism was first coined, researchers discovered that communities of colour and low income communities were far more likely to have polluting industries (power plants and garbage dumps, for example) within their boundaries.

In 2007, researchers went back and re-examined the issue, hoping that awareness of the problem would have led to corrective measures. Instead they found the reverse; the amount of pollution in these communities had increased.


 India is a developing country, and industries are a major source of hazardous waste in developing countries. 



Pic Credit- Seeker's Thoughts
Why does the developing countries have more hazardous waste?

But industrial hazardous waste sources presents greater risks in developing countries than in developed countries. The reason behind it remains the poor management and obsolete technologies. 
Multinational companies often set their plants in developing countries so, that they can use technologies banned in their home country. The accident at the Bhopal plant in India, which belonged to union carbide of USA, is a prime example of this situation.
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The major source of hazardous solid waste in India are mostly because of industrial activities, agriculture and agro industries, medicine facilities, commercial centers, household and the informal sector.
 Small competitive and labour intensive businesses that are not regulated by government are the source of hazardous solid waste that is currently recognized as major problem in developing countries.
Pic Credit- Seeker's Thoughts

What is Chemical’s hazardous Waste?
Hazardous waste in India has been defined as “any substances, excluding domestic and radioactive wastes, which because of its quantity and corrosive, reactive, ignitable, toxic and infectious characteristics causes significant hazards to human health or environment when improperly treated, stored, transported and disposed”. 

Chemical wastes refer to wastes that may, or tend to, causes adverse health effects on the ecosystem and human beings. 

These wastes pose present or potential risks to human health or living organisms, due to the fact that they: are non-degradable or persistent in nature; can be biologically magnified; are highly toxic and even lethal at a very low concentration of the substance.
Classification of hazardous waste
Wastes are classified as F, K, P and U lists
 F- list: - it contains hazardous wastes from non-specific sources that are various processes that may have generated the waste which commonly used in degreasing, metal treatment baths and sludges, wastewaters from metal plating operations.
K-list: - it contains hazardous wastes generated by specific industrial processes like pigment production, chemical production, petroleum refining, iron and steel production.
P and U lists: - The P and U lists contain discarded commercial chemical products, off –specification chemicals, container resides and resides from the spillage of materials.


 These two list commercial pure grades of the chemical, any technical grades of the chemical produced or marketed, and all formulations in which the chemical is the sole active ingredient.
Global Chemical Outlook II
The global chemical outlook reports has released which seeks to alert policymakers and other stakeholder about the critical role of chemical waste management in sustainable development.
The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemical and waste 

The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemical and waste set out in 2006 under the UN’s global non-binding chemicals programme, the strategic aproach to international chemicals management will not be achieved by 2020.

 The report notes that despite the international agreement, reached at the high-level UN conference and significant action already taken scientists continue to express concerns regarding the lack of progress made.
The report notes that globally harmonized system for classification and labeling has not been implemented are more than 120 countries, mostly developing nations and economies in transition.
The countries still lacks pollutant release transfer register poison centers and capacities for hazard and risk assessment and risk management. The report highlights the example of regulations on lead in paint as a revealing indicator. The report notes that as of September 2018, only 37% of countries had confirmed the legally binding controls on lead in paint.  Further, even if regulations on specific chemicals are in place implementation and enforcement may pose challenges.

The report notes that chemical production and consumption is shifting to emerging economies, particularly in china. The Asia –Pacific region is projected to account for more than two-thirds of global sales by 2030 and cross-border e-commerce is growing 25% annually. 

The report says that progress remains insufficient and there is an urgent need to take concerted action to develop basic chemicals management systems in all countries.

Status in India: India has been a signatory to several international conventions which deal with the use of chemicals
-         Chemical weapons convention
-         Rotterdam convention on prior informed consent procedure for hazardous pesticides and chemicals.
-         Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants.
-         Montreal protocol on substances that deplete the Ozone layer.
-         Minamata convention on mercury
-         Base convention on trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste.
Chemical regulations in India
Two chemical regulations are the most important ones in force in India.
1-     Manufacture, storage and import of Hazardous Chemical (Amendment) rules, 1989, 1994, 2000 – The regulation was firstly enacted in 1989 by the ministry of environment & forests and later amended in 1994 and 2000. It regulates the manufacture, storage and imports of hazardous chemical in India. The transport of hazardous chemicals must meet the provisions of the motor vehicle Act, 1988.

2-    Ozone depleting substance (R&C) rules (2000) – the regulations strictly controls the production, import and use of ozone depleting substances in India most of ozone depleting substance are banned in India.
In addition, multiple acts which focuses on manufacture and transportation. These include the environmental protection Act, Factories Act, Motor Vehicles Act, Explosive Act, insecticide Act and Petroleum Act. 

These are being dealt with by different Ministries, including Environment and forests, labour commerce and industry, petroleum and natural gas, agriculture, shipping and surface transport, some of them at the central level and others at the levels of both the centre and the states.
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India and SAICM
India is also a party to the initiative known as strategic approach to international chemicals management (SAICM), which lays down a roadmap for the participating countries to make the use of chemicals safer. It is a policy framework to promoted chemical safely around the world.
SAICM has its overall objective the achievement of sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle, in order that by 2020, chemical would be produced and use in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment. 

This “2020 goal” was adopted by the world summit on sustainable development in 2002 as of the Johannesburg plan of implementation.
        Read about - 5 lakh death in India alone due to unclean cooking fuel
A way forward
It needs to be recognized that in order to achieve the 2020 objective, India would need to take steps quickly, concurrently and effectively in several areas, including the following:
-         Storage facilities of hazardous chemicals
-         Inventorisation of chemical substances in use, including relevant physical, chemical, ecological and toxological data about them
-         Legislation for classification, labeling and packaging
-         Legislation on registration, Evaluation and approval of toxic or dangerous chemicals.


Considering the efforts needed to achieve the 2020 target and the time it has taken other countries to do so, the  following approach merits urgent attention of the government.
 It is neccesary that one nodal ministry be entrusted with the preparation or a roadmap and its implementation. The ministry of chemicals and fertilizers would be the most appropriate in this regard.

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