Our dependency, directly or indirectly, on chemicals is so high that it is almost impossible to find a product that does not have added synthetic chemicals as an important constituent of the product material. As part of the product design, synthetic chemicals are either added intentionally to enhance the product’s quality, appearance, performance, or they are used in their processing. However, presence of chemicals in various products pose serious environmental and health hazards thus, making the management of these products an area of grave concern, both upstream and downstream.
International and Indian Policies on Chemical Management: The UN-Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), adopted in 2006 at ICCM1 (International Conference on Chemicals Management), has as its main objective to achieve the World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) 2020 goal of ascertaining chemical safety throughout the life-cycle (from pre-production to use and to the final disposal). SAICM/ICCM3 held at Nairobi from 17th–21st September 2012, has also adopted Chemicals in Products (CiP) as an emerging priority policy issue and agreed to address the need to improve the availability and access to relevant information on chemicals in products.
However, India with a fragile regulatory framework and very little public information, presents a bleak scenario on the issue. India’s Chemicals (Management & Safety) Rules (CMSR), which is dubbed as “India REACH” will be notified to the World Trade Organization soon. The CMSR will enforce notification, registration and restriction, or prohibition of use of chemical substances, substance in mixtures, and articles and intermediates in the country in quantities above one ton per year.
Toxics Link Management on Chemicals in Products: Our organization has been specifically working in the area of chemicals in products and its impact on human health and environment. It is constantly engaged in research, information creation, dissemination and policy intervention on issues like mercury in CFLs, lead in paints, heavy metals in toys and jewellery and has brought significant policy changes at the regional, national and international level.
We have also been a part of various international negotiations on chemical management and chemical safety and has been regularly contributing to the dialogues and deliberation on various issues of chemicals at national, and international levels. Its future priority is to achieve a sound chemical management and contribute to healthy living in the country.