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Climate change and chemical safety: the problem

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1 Climate change and chemical safety: the problem
Role of Engineering Toward a Better Environment: Global Environmental changes: challenges and opportunities 20-22 Dec 2008, Alexandria, Egypt H.A.M. de Kruijf PUM, Netherlands Senior Experts UNITAR, United Nations Institute for Training and research RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

2 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This presentation is primarily based on the brochure: MANAGING CHEMICALS IN A CHANGING CLIMATE TO PROTECT HEALTH (April 2008), and the accompanying presentation of IFCS, The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety author and contributors: Katherine Shea Lilian Corra Jenny Pronczuk Marie-Noel Brune Photographs, unless otherwise indicated: by the author RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

3 Climate change and Chemical safety introductory remarks
The threat of accelerating climate change may significantly alter global and local development, and thus may also change use, distribution and degradation of chemicals in ways that could affect human health and environment. Little has been published up to now addressing issues of climate change and chemical safety, in short the possible risks associated with climate change and chemicals. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

4 Climate change and Chemical safety introductory remarks
In the following presentations we explore How climate change may alter human and environmental exposure to chemicals Identify who may be particularly at risk of adverse effects Suggest actions that can be taken now to reduce adverse impacts on human health and environment (by chemicals); or better: questions that should be raised to identify those actions! RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

5 Climate change and Chemical safety introductory remarks
Climate change is more than a warming trend: Increasing temperatures will lead to changes in many aspects of weather, such as winds patterns, amount and type precipitation, type and frequency of severe weather events Global sea level could rise, causing damage to coastal regions through flooding and erosion Climate of various regions could change too quickly for many plants and animal species to adjust. Harsh weather conditions , e.g. heat waves and droughts, could also happen more often and more severely RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

6 Climate change and Chemical safety introductory remarks
Climate change could affect human health, environmental health and well-being e.g.: Many larger cities could experience a significant rise in the number of hot days Air pollution problems would increase, placing children, the elderly and people suffering from respiratory problems at greatest risks of health effects Molds and pollens may increase causing respiratory problems The effects on human exposure will vary widely according to the properties of specific chemicals and chemical combinations RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

7 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Temperature changes precipitation air water sediment natural soil agricult. industr. emission Advection/dispersive diffusion degradation floods Erosion, run-off droughts Model to calculate distribution of chemicals towards an equilibrium; Where does CC intervene, have an impact? (adapted from: EUSES) RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

8 Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing how chemicals move and transform in the environment Some examples of how these interactions may affect human exposures due to: Extreme precipitation, storms and floods threaten water quality Drought threatens water quality Increased temperatures RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

9 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing how chemicals move and transform in the environment Examples: Extreme precipitation, storms and floods threaten water quality: By increasing urban and agricultural run-off of petrochemicals, industrial chemicals, chemical waste, pesticides and fertilizers into surface waters or enhanced through-put of supersaturated soil into groundwater; flooding of warehouses and old stockpiles of chemicals such as paints, solvents, pesticides will lead to potentially dangerous exposure situations RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

10 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing how chemicals move and transform in the environment From internet Drought threatens water quality by concentration of non-volatile chemicals and toxic metals in drinking water resources. When rain comes, parched and cracked soil may permit rapid transit of chemicals into deep groundwater stores. Examples: RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

11 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing how chemicals move and transform in the environment Examples: Increased temperatures will cause volatile chemicals to disperse more quickly in the air and some chemicals will degrade more quickly potentially creating local hot spots of exposure. Evaporation will be enhanced leaving non-volatile chemicals to concentrate in water bodies. Global movement of persistent chemicals will be modified with changes in global water and air currents, and thus population exposures will also change. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

12 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Effect of the effect of volatility on transportation distance of POP’s CC will seriously and unpredictably change these patterns Most volatile Moderately volatile Least volatile Global movement of persistent chemicals will be modified with changes in global water and air currents, and thus population exposures will also change. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

13 Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing where and how chemicals are used Chemicals can be critical tools in the global response to climate change, but when the world warms, chemical use patterns will likely change in several sectors and affect human exposure levels as well as environmental exposure levels. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

14 Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing where and how chemicals are used Agricultural chemicals: CC may require changes in crop choice and lead to a perceived or actual need to use more, different or new chemicals to combat pests RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

15 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing where and how chemicals are used Example: Agricultural chemicals: Pesticides may lose effectiveness or be more rapidly broken down in warmer temperatures which could lead to more frequent use and more human and environmental exposure RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

16 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing where and how chemicals are used Control of infectious disease Increases in vector-borne diseases anticipated with climate change could stimulate more widespread use of a variety of pesticides to control insect, rodent and other disease vectors Pharmaceutical use to treat these diseases is also likely to increase and further threaten water quality by stressing waste water treatment and downstream drinking water resources. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

17 Climate change and Chemical safety
Example of increase in vector-borne disease and geographical movement: the case of bluetongue The vector: Culicoides sp. sucking blood Bluetongue is a virus disease (reo viruses) among cows, sheep, goats, etc transmitted by Culicoides species. Since a few years, due to warming of the climate the disease does now occur above the 50th latitude. This means new regimes for vaccination, eradication , and use of chemicals The virus: computer model of bluetongue virus RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008 From NRC Handelsblad,

18 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by changing where and how chemicals are used Alternative energy sources developed and disseminated to stabilize the climate have the potential to cause large changes in chemical use patterns; for example, the change to bio-fuels and use of waste as fuels could results in new sources of chemical contamination on a large scale. (And there is the question of water versus energy!) RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

19 Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals more dangerous Ecosystem services: some plant and animal species are more vulnerable to heat-related harm if they have prior exposure to various chemicals or are more vulnerable to chemical exposure when stressed by the changing climate. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

20 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may make some chemicals more dangerous Climate Change may give a push to invasive plants: Due to CC more invasive plants may be seen in more temperate zones (and there are already examples) These invasive plants appear to be more resistant to local plagues thus may more quickly turn out to be a plague themselves! And thus may well become a very serious threat to local biodiversity and water resources. This may lead to additional use of pesticides causing risks for man and environment. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

21 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may make some chemicals more dangerous Ecosystem services; It is possible that the adverse impact of CC on the ecosystems that provide us with food, fiber and useful chemicals could be greater in a warmer global environment! RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

22 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may make some chemicals more dangerous Increased toxicity Increased ambient temperatures may have direct impact on toxicity levels in exposed humans Evidence from medicine (chemicals and fever), drugs and temperature) Impact on developmental toxicity RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

23 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Climate change may make some chemicals more dangerous Well described increased toxicity of chemicals in higher ambient temperatures under experimental conditions It is not clear that this relationship will dominate in the complex world of multiple stressors, but it does support the arguments to minimize all chemical exposures as we seek to meet the challenges of a warming world. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

24 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Some groups are more vulnerable Because of inherent characteristics….. Age and general health affect any individual’s ability to withstand harm from a variety of chemical exposures. some groups at increased risks are: Foetuses Children Elderly people Medical illness RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

25 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Some groups are more vulnerable Because of inherent characteristics….. Foetuses: are susceptible to permanent harms from even brief exposures in utero as might happen after a water Contamination event such as a flood, or a high dose exposure From pesticide spraying RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

26 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Some groups are more vulnerable Because of inherent characteristics….. High risk children: In developing countries where water and food scarcity cause wide spread malnutrition Where CC will cause increased vector-borne diseases (e.g. malaria) Where agriculture will require high chemical inputs Where children working at jobs with potential high exposures: agriculture, rag picking, recycling (batteries, waste etc) RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

27 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Some groups are more vulnerable Because of inherent characteristics….. Elderly people may have lost the physical ability to avoid exposure and/or the physiologic capacity to withstand exposures that may have been in younger years relatively non-toxic. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

28 RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
Climate change and Chemical safety Some groups are more vulnerable ………………….because of circumstances Poverty limits adaptive responses to both climate change and chemical exposures. Malnutrition, particularly in the very young, may compound and worsen effects from any toxic chemical exposure RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

29 Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable …………because of circumstances Geography is a major determinant of which health threats from climate change are most likely, and places entire populations at increased risk. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

30 Climate change and Chemical safety
Example: low lying coastal communities are more susceptible to floods and storms which may be complicated by chemical contamination of drinking water, fields, food crops, and living spaces RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

31 Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable ………………..because of circumstances Occupations that involve the use of chemicals, such as agricultural work, may be increasingly risky because of increased chemical use, change in chemicals used and rapid development of new chemicals RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

32 Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable ………………..because of circumstances Public Health infrastructure, including the health care systems, as well s chemical safety laws, regulations, surveillance and enforcement, are critical to minimizing injury and illness related to CC and chemical exposures. In those areas where these basic services are lacking, whole populations are at increased risk. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

33 Climate change and Chemical safety
THE FUTURE: Lots of questions but answers???? RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

34 Climate change and chemical safety: the future
Role of Engineering Toward a Better Environment: Global Environmental changes: challenges and opportunities 20-22 Dec 2008, Alexandria, Egypt H.A.M. de Kruijf PUM, UNITAR RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

35 Climate change and Chemical safety
Starting statements: We need all tools to respond to Climate Change; this includes existing and new chemicals as well as non-chemical alternatives Protecting human health and particularly the health of those who are most vulnerable, must be central part of all climate adaptive strategies including chemical use and management As climate change accelerates and we feel the urgent need to both reduce emissions and respond to public health threats, it is critical that we do not loose sight of the need to strengthen and improve systems to ensure chemical safety. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

36 Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (1) When considering any climate-related problem, a number of questions relevant to the use of an additional chemical for any reason should be answered : Will using a chemical solve this problem? What is known about the toxicity and exposure to the most vulnerable humans? What is known about the potential harm to ecosystem services? Are there non-chemical solutions for this problem? Are there multiple chemicals that could be used to solve the problem? RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

37 Discussion between the Risk assessor and Risk Manager (Results)
Ecological Risk Assessment Discussion Between the Risk assessor And Risk manager (Planning) PROBLEM FORMULATION Characterization of ecological effects Characterization of exposure ANALYSIS Data Acquisition; verification and monitoring A systematic approach is necessary to study this sort of problems, such the ecological risk assessment system Suter, 2007 RISK CHARACTERIZATION Discussion between the Risk assessor and Risk Manager (Results) UNESCO-IHE module on Aquatic toxicology Risk Management RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

38 Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (2) Is there equivalent information on toxicity and exposure for each alternative? Which is least toxic? What are relative toxicities and efficacies of the viable solutions? What is unique about the location, geography, topography, level of development, or population characteristics which will affect movement and breakdown of the chemical under consideration? What are critical human exposures likely to be? RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

39 Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (3) Can chemical use be minimized or eliminated over time through alternative management strategies? Will use of this chemical create new or persistent problems for human health or ecosystem integrity? Do we have adequate chemical safety and management systems in place? Will the changing climate increase or decrease human exposure, or make this chemical more or less effective or toxic over time? RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

40 Climate change and Chemical safety
We can not say : or: RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

41 Climate change and Chemical safety
What could be your role in the prevention of such hazards? Develop, work on….. Measures to decrease or lower the rate of climate change! Measures to adapt to the new and predicted changes: water resources management, waste management, chemicals management (industry, agriculture, pharmaceuticals) etc! Measures to prevent negative health effects on humans, on the environment! Measures that develop innovative new constructions where necessary ! Techniques for a better balance between use of limited water resources and energy production! RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

42 Climate change and Chemical safety
Identify the problem II Develop risk reduction goals VI Implement and evaluate To develop strategies to solve or at least try to solve these Problems, one could use a so-called Risk Reduction Strategy Model as developed and applied by UNITAR Involve interested and affected parties III Identify and evaluate options V Double check IV Select risk reduction strategy RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

43 Climate change and Chemical safety
Although the relation between climate change and chemical safety has received little attention, developing ideas and working on these issues are part of an international agreement: Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). SAICM is a global policy framework to support efforts to achieve the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goal that, by 2020, chemicals should be produced and used in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. (and that includes of course CC and chemical safety!) RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

44 Climate change and Chemical safety
The Dubai declaration on International Chemicals Management and the accompanying Over Arching Policy Strategy (Feb 2006) identify key elements of chemical safety which will be increasingly important within the context of global climate change. The declaration stresses the need to protect vulnerable populations (including children and unborn children), promote green chemistry, and operate within a context of transparency, partnership, and accountability among all sectors of society. In particular there is a call for public access to appropriate information and knowledge on chemicals throughout their life cycle, including the risks that they pose to human health and the environment. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

45 Climate change and Chemical safety
Risk reduction to minimize significant adverse effects on human health and the environment is the first strategic objective; How? By pollution prevention, precaution, life cycle analysis, and promotion of environmentally sound and safer chemical and non-chemical alternatives are all enumerated as strategies. (using e.g. Life Cycle Analysis, LCA) Additional areas of action include optimization of knowledge and information, governance, capacity building and technical cooperation. As work progresses to improve chemical management from the local to the international level, the changes in chemical risk associated with accelerating global climate change must be placed permanently on the agenda. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

46 LIFE CYCLE OF A CHEMICAL
RAW MATERIALS LIFE CYCLE OF A CHEMICAL Production intermediates non-isolated SUBSTANCE 1 Processing on site Life cycle of a chemical substance. Emissions to the environment can occur at any point in this cycle. Hum. Ecol. Risk Assess. 9 (1) 292, 2004 Isolation isolated Processing off site Formulation SUBSTANCE 2 Private use Industrial use Processing processing aid Processing in product Processing processing aid Processing product Use of product, articles Use of product, articles Waste Recovery RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

47 Climate change and Chemical safety
In the past many chemicals have been used without sufficient knowledge and consideration of the cost to human health and ecosystem function. Even now, capacities and capabilities of many countries to protect their citizens from the potential adverse effects of chemicals and soundly manage the use of chemicals, are inadequate; facing the new and expanded problems posed by climate change, these countries most certainly will be additionally challenged. RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

48 Climate change and Chemical safety
Information and training will be needed to ensure the sound management and use of newly developed chemicals, or existing chemicals in new locations and applications specifically under the new uncertain circumstances (CC). Targeted research and application of a precautionary approach are essential to protect human health and ecosystem integrity from harm as we strive for a sustainable world; especially considering the challenges by the Climate Change RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008

49 Climate change and Chemical safety
THANK YOU!! References can be found in the indicated brochure as well as on the website of IFCS: Climate change and Chemical safety The future Source of life starts here: beginning of the NILE RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008


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