Tanzanian manufacturing plants have the duty to take necessary safety precautions and test all their products and waste for harmful chemicals that may pose adverse threats to human life and the surrounding ecosystem.
The call was made at the weekend by Issaria Mangalili, Principal Environmental Officer, Division of Environment in the Vice President’s Office during a workshop organised by the Vice President’s Office on Capacity Building to control and Manage Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes.
Majority of the public even in places where it matters the most like, the industrial workers, storekeepers, agricultural extension workers and in some cases, customs officers and government officials lack knowledge on the health hazards created by chemicals all around them.
On the other hand, the government must decide which uses are unacceptable in view of the risk they present. With chemicals touching nearly every aspect of our lives, government, producers, distributors and user of chemicals are responsible for the proper management of chemicals.
Management of chemicals is the process of assessing and reducing the risks that chemicals will harm human health or the environment. It is the continuous process which entails a comprehensive approach aimed at reducing risks and preventing impacts of chemicals through each stage of the chemical’s life cycle, from production or import, through processing, storage, transport, distribution, use and disposal.
Although he asked industries to embark on this initiative, presently there is an apparent lack of knowledge by the end users of chemicals on the risk associated with chemicals and their waste to their health and environment.
“Tanzania has made significant progress in the management of dangerous chemicals and waste programmes and the Vice President’s Office is the lead and coordinating office for Multilateral Environment Agreements for chemicals.
According to him, currently political will commitment and support is high and the coordination system needs to be strengthen
He highlighted the main challenge as the lack of even a sanitary landfill for the disposal of hazardous waste saying it was hampering efforts to coordinate the management of hazardous chemicals and waste in the country. Also the lack of an appropriate incinerator facility or set specifications in terms of quality of building materials, burning temperatures and monitoring devices.
He also recommended that there is the need to conduct a comprehensive inventory of waste streams in the country to estimate the magnitude of hazardous waste.
Although developing countries including Tanzania are working together towards their reduction and ultimate elimination of problems associated with Persistent Organic pollutants (POPs), the magnitude of the POPs problems in these countries is not known.
This applies especially for Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) containing oil additives which were used very much in transformer oil production in the past.