Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
Children and chemical safety
Ljubljana 16.5.2005
Agenda, item 1:
Participants were welcomed by the host, Dr. Marta Ciraj, Secretary at the National Chemicals
Bureau of the Republic of Slovenia. The conference was then opened by Prof. Dr. B.
Kurlyandskiy, Vice President of the IFCS.
Ms. dr. Judy A. Stober, secretary general, IFCS, introduced basic facts about IFCS and its
goals and objectives. She stressed that IFCS is based on full and open cooperation of all
interested stakeholders (governments, NGO's, scientific institutions, etc....) with task to give
recommendations and guidance, monitor progress elements, etc... on chemical safety. Special
needs and concerns are devoted to chemicals problems connected to children, due to the
growing evidence of serious consequences of children exposure to chemicals. IFCS's Forum
IV also recognized that children can be especially vulnerable in chemicals polluted
environment. That's why this conference is very important.
First part of the conference was chaired by Dunja Piškur Kosmač, D.M. and Metka
Macarol Hiti, D.M. from Slovenia.
Agenda, item 2:
As first lecturer Prof. Dr. György Ungváry presented specific vulnerability of children
regarding to exposure to chemicals. Working group on chemical safety within IFCS issued a
study "Protecting Children from Harmful Chemical Exposures", which was published in
Central European Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Prof. Ungváry
explained reasons for vulnerability of children, which consist of biological factors, toxico
kinetics factors and physiological factors and behavioural factors.
Children for instance inhale more air and consume more food (use more calories) that adults,
compared to their body mass, have different behaviour, and are consequently exposed to
higher doses of toxins. In children, very important route of exposure is the absorption through
the skin. Even very small exposure can have serious consequences on IQ of the children.
Further development on this issue is needed.
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
Agenda, item 3:
In connection to the pilot project on preparation of assessment and action plan for at least 3
countries of CEE region in different stages of economic development, Dr. Marta Ciraj
presented the results of questionnaire which was sent to the countries of CEE region. 13
countries gave answers to the questionnaire, 8 of them confirmed that they have system for
gathering information on poisoning of children with chemicals, most of the countries (11)
obtained information from hospital, some also from ambulances, police, health institutes and
special clinics. Only 5 countries have system of gathering information on long term effects,
including carcinogenicity, mutagenic effects, etc...
Most frequent poisonings of children are with household chemicals, pesticides, followed by
industrial chemicals and other resources, like waste chemicals, etc....
Reasons of poisoning are low awareness, improper packaging and non-original packaging
etc... Countries also gave proposals, what should be established or improved in the future:
data collection, education, awareness raising, transmission of data to poison control centres,
This was followed by presentation on initial national assessment of children's environmental
health and chemical safety in Hungary and Bulgaria, given by the representatives of those
Hungary has established very high level of children's protection from chemical exposure, their
Chemicals Safety Act even requires inclusion of education programs into schools, besides that
they have requirements on labelling and childproof packaging according to EU legislation.
They performed analyse of children's knowledge of chemical safety in years 2003 and 2004,
after teaching children about chemical safety. Results were significantly better in year 2004
than a year before.
Bulgaria prepared National Action Plan for Environmental Health, Programme for limitation
of health risks for the population from the harmful chemicals; they accepted Health Protection
Act and established Poison Centres who gathers the information on poisonings.
During the discussion on presented matters IFCS recommended to CEE countries
representatives the need for updating a National Profiles and inclusion in their context the
field of specific vulnerable population, particularly children .All countries in CEE Region
should prepare a relevant National Action Plan or update existing in the same sense.
Dr. Judy A. Stober presented, in the name of Jenny Pronczuk, WHO, the WHO activities to
support the Forum IV recommendations on children and chemical safety.
In year 1990 12,7 million children under 5 year of age died, in year 2000 number decreased to
10,9 million, from which 1 million can be allocated to indoor air pollution. In the age group 014 years there is 35.000 deaths due to the unintentional poisonings. Lead, mercury, pesticides,
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
POP's, mycotoxins, nitrates, fluorides, arsenic, endocrine disrupters are the main reasons for
this situation. IFCS prepared several recommendations, 6 case studies, books, training
materials, and leaflets for doctors, etc.... IFCS is also developing indicators on children
Due to the IFCS Forum IV conclusions, initial assessment on children chemicals exposure
should be prepared by 2006, 3 countries should be selected from CEE region, to which
WHO would help with preparation of this assessment. Countries of the region should
think about possible candidates.
Agenda, item 5:
Dr. Marta Ciraj presented results of questionnaire on risk reduction measures in CEE
countries. 13 countries answered to the questionnaire, 12 of them have in place requirements
on risk reduction measures for prevention of children exposure to chemicals. Measures are
mostly of legislative nature: sanitary conditions, classification, labelling and packaging, etc...
Only Hungary notified legally binding awareness raising programs.
Countries proposed simplification of the codification, special page on INFOCAP,
development of national chemical safety web site for dissemination and exchange of
information for stakeholders, public and others, broadcasting on the radio and TV, etc....
Representative of Croatia stressed the importance of unified methodology for data collecting;
without that, the results of risk assessments and other relevant data are hardly comparable and
don’t enable good quality of risk reduction measures.
Representative of Poland offered reflection after two years of using the risk reduction
measures in accordance with EU legislation. He believes that classification, labelling and
packaging are essential, mostly symbols for danger, R, S phrases, child resistant packages,
and restrictions. They are faced with big import of toys and other products for children, from
countries outside EU, that's why the proper training of inspector, which will be able to check
if this products meet the requirements, is essential.
Participants agreed that legislation of this field is very important, which can be underpinned
by the fact that UN in its millennium development goals, in chapter "environment" explicitly
mentioned chemicals.
Marija Jamšek, D.M. presented role of Poison Control Centre in Prevention of Childhood
poisoning in the Republic of Slovenia. Main task of centre is prevention of childhood
poisoning, they collect information on poisoning and run statistics on it, and they offer 24
hour information and consultation service to general doctors.
In period 1985 - 2002, 28 children under age of 14 died of poisoning, reasons were mostly:
carbon monoxide, mushrooms, pesticides, ethanol and other solvents. 14% of all poisoning
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
hospitalization was made for children under age of 14s, 59 % it was non medical causes, 49 %
medical causes. Accidental poisoning is prevailing, except in group 10-14 years, where there
is approximately the same rate of accidental and suicidal poisonings.
The biggest problem is interpretation of data and different codification, (doctors sometimes
doesn't codify cases correctly), which is not the good basis for preventive measures.
Cooperation between all involved and proper education and exchange of information is
Mrs. Jamšek also explained that in Slovenia there is no specialistic study of clinical
toxicology, but there is 35 hours training of toxicology, which is included in program of other
specialisations and is performed each year.
Representative of Russia explained that they have 43 Poison Control Centres that give
assistance in cases of acute poisoning. In Moscow are 2 centres, which coordinate all other
centres. All general doctors can get information on treatment of poisonings. System, which
deals with statistical data, is running smoothly. Most poisoning are from alcohol, drugs and
funguses. Clinical toxicology is taught at university, they are in the process of introducing
preventive toxicology specialization.
Dr. Judy A. Stober presented WHO Multilevel Course on the Sound Management of
Pesticides and on the Dyagnosis and treatment of pesticide poisoning, which was developed
in 1994 and should enable sound management of pesticides. Course is decided into three
levels: basic, intermediate and advances level.
Basic course deals with general absorption and effects of pesticides, personal protection,
protection of others, chemical danger groups and modes of pesticide poisoning, first aid and
medical treatment of pesticide poisoning and evaluation, etc... On higher level course they are
lectures about how adverse effects can be prevented, how should be treated poisoning if it
occurs, how to organize course and how to train the trainers, medical treatment, evaluation,
reference part (documents, etc....).
She also mentioned case, when 120 children died in Philippines, when accidentally pesticide
was mixed with food. Participants had opportunity to see the Children & POP's Video from
Uruguay, where children were expressing their views on POP's after they were taught about
dangers of persistent chemicals. This is a good example, how we can teach public, especially
children to become responsible citizens of the world, who will be able to demand proper
actions for the protection of the world.
Second part of the conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. György Ungváry and dr. Marta
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
Agenda, items 7 and 8:
On the issue of exchange of information dr. Judy A. Stober presented some available
sources of information, which are: websites of different conventions, UNITAR website on
education, INFOCAP, different brochure, etc....
INFOCAP (Information Exchange Network on capacity building for the Sound Management
of Chemicals) was established in 1970, and was brought forward to create information
exchange network. INFOCAP is area on website, where countries can publish their national
plans, where experience on projects can be shared, where DNA's are listed, where is special
section for regional groups and which can be a platform for international information
Representative of Russia proposed that INFOCAP should include free databases on
chemicals. He believes that Safety Data Sheets are mostly inappropriate, often without
toxicological data, which is not a good starting point for sound management of chemicals.
Some States presented their system of information exchange. Belarus is in process of
preparation of National Profile, also website should be in operation soon. They have register
of data on import and production, but no data on use of chemicals. There is no Poison Control
Centre in Belarus.
In Armenia State Committee for pesticides is established, there is no Poison Control Centre.
They have issued National Profile, website is in preparation. In Romania they want to
implement REACH system (which includes also exchange of information); in the field of
pesticides they are working in close cooperation with NGO's.
Poland finds its website as the most powerful awareness raising tool. They believe that each
country should have it on national language and in English version. They also have a database
of 25.000 Safety Data Sheets, which is connected into data exchange network and can be used
by responsible authorities, for instance inspectors. Problems with validation of data still exist.
CEE region should think about common network, which was already proposed at
SAICM meeting; we should check which information exchange systems are already
available. A small regional steering group should be established for information
exchange issues. There is a need to elaborate which information exchange resources
already exist, and which has to be additionally established. Countries are encouraged to
express their interest in cooperation in such steering group.
Third part of the conference was chaired by Darja Boštjančič and Karmen Krajnc, both
from Slovenia.
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
Agenda, item 10:
As a part of preparation for following SAICM regional meeting, possible institutional
arrangements for the post SAICM period were discussed.
Dr. Judy A. Stober presented IFCS view on possible role of IFCS after SAIC is complete in
year 2006. Establishment of IFCS was response to situation that there was no special forum,
which would deal only with chemicals as a whole, and which would also include other
stakeholders beside governments.
IFCS was established in 1994 to improve international coordination and cooperation on
chemical safety issues and one of its main aims is to integrate in this process different
stakeholders. First conference was in 1994, fifth conference will be in Budapest next year.
Key IFCS achievements were development of documents "Priorities for action beyond 2000",
"Bahia declaration on chemical safety" and many other guidelines for safe management of
chemicals. IFCS also introduced voluntary GHS system and provide initial assessment of
POP's chemicals.
IOMC paper on SAICM identified three roles of future organizational scheme of SAICM,
namely implementation, monitoring and oversight (intersectional work). The participants
should decide who will perform each of these individual tasks. It was sugested to separate the
implementation role from monitoring and oversight (consideration of the outcomes of
IFCS Thought Starter on International Aspects of Chemicals Management post SAICM is
neutrally proposed possible solution, but it doesn't cover implementation part, for instance, it
is still unknown who will check the progress, etc.... Regional Groups should look through the
paper and give proposals.
It is of essential importance to include different stakeholders and to stipulate good and strong
cooperation between different IGO's. Since IFCS is some kind of umbrella for other IGO's
IFCS definitely could play an important role in future of SAICM.
Elizabeth Hattan, from DEFRA, United Kingdom, presented conclusion of workshop on
institutional and governance arrangements on post-SAICM period, which was held in London
on 22-23 March 2005. Key tasks in post-SAICM period should be: oversight role, role in
monitoring and assessing, promotion of national coordination and implementation, develop
funding mechanisms, to promote synergies inside the IGO's, increase efficiency, sense of
ownership and to prepare proposals for other actions and facilitate interagency work.
Possible governance structure includes five elements: Decision Making Body (including
governments, IGO's and NGO's), Intersectional subsidiary body, Secretariat, Interagency
coordination (IOMC) and IGO's Governing Council.
Intersessional subsidiary body should be a platform for regular discussion in the period
between meetings of Decision Making Body. UNEP was selected as one of strong candidates
Regional Chemical Safety Conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 16 May 2005
for the secretariat. Very important is also public support and institutional support on national,
regional and global level.
Participants stressed the importance of coordination mechanisms on regional level and need
for relatively frequent meetings of the highest Decision Making Body, at least every 2-3
years. Participants stress their reserve concerning presented constituents of Decision Making
Body taking in account that since the government represents views of national stakeholders,
probably only international NGO's can be members of Decision Making Body too.
Participants should think about the future role of IFCS in post SAICM period and
express their views on the forthcoming meeting of SAICM.
Report prepared by:
Ivana Halle, Croatia
Karmen Krajnc, Slovenia