The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is assisting EPA with a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Fund to monitor and generate the requisite data to detoxify the global environment particularly the African region.
Mr. Daniel Amlalo, the Executive Director of EPA has noted the global effort to reduce and eliminate the presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) exposed into the environment culminated in the Stockholm Convention in 2004.
He added that the Stockholm Convention began with 12 initial compounds affectionately called the “dirty dozen” however additional new chemicals have been added to the Convention.
Therefore Conference of Parties (COP) were expected to review, and update, implement plans on periodic basis as specified by a decision of the conference to manage POPs.
Speaking at the 3day inception workshop for the UNEP/GEP project on “Continuing Regional Support for the POPs Global Monitoring Plan under the Stockholm Convention in the African Region,” Mr. Amlalo noted that Ghana has been at the forefront in championing the implementation of the several chemicals-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).
He added that the MEAs was aimed at protecting human health and the environment from diverse impacts of toxic chemical substances.
“As part of our national efforts to meet our obligations under the MEAs, strategies are underway in mainstreaming the chemicals and waste issues into the national development agenda. For instance, a draft bill to domesticate the Basel Convention and certain aspects of the Stockholm Convention is currently before Parliament for promulgation into law,” he stated.
He said the challenge is that that many of the POPs, especially the new ones lives with us but there is little or no information about them in the country.
Mr. Amlalo emphasised that Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) constitute a group of chemical substances that possess a particular combination of physical and chemical properties such that once released into the environment they remain intact for exceptionally long periods of time.
He explained that they become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and air. They accumulates in the fatty tissue of living organism including humans, found at higher concentrations at higher levels in the food chain making it very toxic .
According to him, specific effects of POPs includes cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders and disruption of the immune system.
Mr. Amlalo indicated that the Conference of the Parties (COP) at its first meeting of which Ghana is a member initiated the establishment of an arrangement called the Global Monitoring Plan (GMP) to provide itself with comparable monitoring data on the presence of the chemicals as well as their regional and global transport.
He added that the GMP1 project equally assisted participating countries in the region to develop their capacity for national monitoring programmes as well as upgrade their analytical skills for the determination of POPs in the air, mothers’ milk and other matrices.
Mr. Amlalo posited that the first regional monitoring report for Africa region among other things stressed the limited data available and constrained capacity for sustained monitoring in the African region.
“In order to improve this situation for future assessments, the report stressed on capacity building for POPs monitoring programmes for most countries in the region remains the top priority recommendation,” he stated.
He concluded that the workshop (Global Monitoring Plan 2) which is a continuation of the first (GMP1) is intended to continue building capacity of countries in the region for sustained monitoring of POPs in a step-by-step process as called for by the Stockholm Convention Countries of the Parties.
Jacqueline Alvarez, Chemical and Waste Branch of UNEP noted that the project is extremely relevant to understand the situation in the different countries in the world and see how these POPs behave.
“If they are staying within the boundaries of Ghana or they are moving all over to other countries. So the chemicals here are not affecting Ghana’s population but it also affects the population of the world because of the movement of the chemicals,” she stated.
She added that the project seeks to get the movement and generation of data to determine how much DDT in human breast milk, in the air and etc.
According to her, this is a 4year project with two years of continuous monitoring, and samples taken every three months to find out the high and low level of contamination.