UNEP: Risk of exposure to harmful chemicals growing worldwide

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toxic chemicals

The growing misuse of chemicals is causing serious damage to health and the environment especially in developing countries, according to a new study published by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The Global Chemicals Outlook report warns that in sub-Saharan Africa the accumulated cost of illness and injury linked to misuse of pesticides in small scale farming could reach $US90 billion by 2020.

The report says pollution and disease related to the unsustainable use, production and disposal of chemicals is hindering development by affecting water supplies, food security and well-being or worker productivity.

Sylvie Lemmet from UNEP says economic gains derived from the use of chemicals must not come at the expense of human health and the environment.

"In view of the high volume of chemicals that is produced and used and diffused in the society and in view of the magnitude of the impact that such use can have if mishandled and if unaddressed it is high time to understand there is high value in investing in the safe management of chemicals, be it from the private sector or from governments. And showing and demonstrating to governments that it makes including economic sense for them is something that we are in a way after."

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 5 million deaths occur annually as a result of exposure to chemical substances.

Duration 37"

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