Managing Chemicals in our environment
With the rapid socio economic development of the country, more chemicals are being used in the environment. These include petroleum and allied products, pesticides, cleaning agents, heavy industry related chemicals and food processing related industry. Some of these are released in the environment and if not done correctly, these could threaten wildlife.
The Standards and Enforcement Section of the Environment Department has the responsibility to ensure that no harmful chemicals are discharged into the environment but are disposed where they are supposed to. The Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA)(Link to the Function) are responsible for monitoring the disposal of waste in all forms including: liquid, solid and gas.
Government has put in place the relevant institutional framework to monitor imports of chemicals. The ‘Pesticide Board’ comprising of members from various ministries (Environment, Agriculture and Health) to deal with the management of pesticides. The Seychelles Bureau of Standards has the responsibility to ensure the safety of chemicals entering the country. These functions are regulated under carious laws administered by the different Ministries and Agency.
Area of Regulation
|Public Health Act||Ministry of Health||Safe use of chemicals|
|Pesticide Act||Government||Safe use of chemicals|
|Health and Safety Regulations||Ministry of Health|
|Health and Safety Act||Ministry of Health||Management of Chemicals|
|Environment Protection Act||Landscape and Waste Management Agency||Chemical and Waste Disposal|
Pesticides are chemicals used to control of pests and to enhance productivity when used correctly resulting in an improvement of crop yields. However when used in excess and not used as instructed, they can pose a serious threat to human health and to the natural environment. Such mismanagement can result in residual pesticide accumulations in the environment, rendering the soil infertile and causing high toxicity levels in the blood of humans and livestock, both resulting in irreversible damage. Therefore, it is important for chemicals to be properly manage under your care.
Good Chemical Management involves:
1. Labelling and safety information
Manufacture labelling provides basic information to individual pesticides. Ensure that the following information are well listed on the label:
- active ingredients
• formulation and expiry dates
• appropriate symbols and pictograms
• written instructions
2. Hazards and Personal Safety Equipment (PSE):
Part of responsible management is ensuring the appropriate PSE by all persons involved with the handling of hazardous products. The need is reinforced by the fact that accidental poisonings usually occur when Personal Safety Equipment is not used during handling.
3. Emergency Management and Spills
An important first step in dealing with spills is to have a plan of action in place with the necessary response equipment in close proximity. Spills must be dealt with immediately to minimize damage. If a spill occurs which cannot be dealt with by the personnel on site, it should be reported immediately to the proper agencies.
Knowing how to deal with old expired pesticide/chemical stocks requires the assistance of a qualified person who can advise on the proper means of dealing with these products. No expired chemical should ever be disposed of in Seychelles unless the health and safety of all inhabitants and the environment can be guaranteed. Owing to the fact that Seychelles is not fully equipped to deal with ‘hazardous waste’, chemicals falling into that category are exported to countries like Reunion for proper disposal. Other types of waste which are not necessarily hazardous but need proper treatment are incinerated, after which the ash is deposited in a designated landfill.
5. Public Education
Passing on information to members of the public regarding chemical management is an important way of ensuring safe use of these chemicals. The more people know about the risks and dangers surrounding mismanagement of chemicals, the more care will be invested in using them. Sensitization is done for all ages starting with school children right through to employees. The Pesticide Board in Seychelles is responsible for distributing information to members of the public who use chemicals.
6. Gaps in Chemical Management
Information exchange remains one of the priorities in chemical management around the world, and Seychelles is not an exception. It is vital that people have access to the right information so that they can make proper use of chemicals without causing adverse effects to the environment and public health. The government of Seychelles is working on information sharing and dissemination especially to members of the public in an effort to better manage chemicals.