Chemical use inflicts mounting bill on poor countries: UN

Sep 05, 2012
A farmer in Pila town, south of Manila sprays pesticide on his rice farm in 2008. The spiralling use of chemicals, especially in developing countries, is inflicting a rising bill by damaging people's health and the environment, according to a UN report issued.

The spiralling use of chemicals, especially in developing countries, is inflicting a rising bill by damaging people's health and the environment, according to a UN report issued on Wednesday.

Formerly small-scale consumers and producers of chemicals, developing economies now represent the fastest-growing sector of this industry, importing or making compounds for manufacturing and agriculture.

The substances go into making mobile phones, personal computers and for cars, as well as dyes for textiles, pesticides for farming and detergents and adhesives for .

But many countries lack safeguards for handling chemicals safely or disposing of them properly, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report, entitled "Global Chemicals Outlook".

Western industrialised economies still account for most of the world's chemical production, but developing giants Brazil, China and India, as well as Russia and other transitioning economies, are catching up fast, it says.

Between 2000 and 2010, chemical production in China and India grew at an annual rate of 24 percent and 14 percent respectively, compared to between five and eight percent in the United States, Japan and Germany.

Global chemical sales are likely to increase by about three percent a year until 2050, says the report.

Africa and the Middle East are set to register a rise of 40 percent in chemicals production by 2020, with Latin America expected to see a 33-percent rise.

This intensification carries a risk.

"Poor management of is responsible for global estimated at $236.3 billion (188 billion euros)," UNEP said.

"Exposure to mercury results in health and environmental damage estimated at $22 billion."

In just one year, caused $634 million in damage to in China, it said.

Between 2005 and 2020, the accumulated cost of illness and injury linked to on small farms in sub-Saharan Africa could reach $90 billion.

In Ecuador, villagers living near an oil drilling site bathed in and drank water that had up to 288 times the permitted maximum in Europe, the report said.

UNEP called for smarter use of chemicals, including low-dosage use of agricultural compounds and safer and more efficient recycling instead of dangerous techniques to recover gold and copper from electronic waste.

Explore further: Deforestation could intensify climate change in Congo Basin by half

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EPA: Decrease in toxic chemical releases

Apr 13, 2006

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report said Wednesday toxic chemicals released into the environment decreased 4 percent from 2003 to 2004.

Consumption driving environment damage: UN

Jun 06, 2012

Population growth and unsustainable consumption are driving Earth towards "unprecedented" environmental destruction, the UN said in a report Wednesday ahead of the Rio Summit.

China produces as much CO2 per person as Europe: report

Jul 18, 2012

China's carbon dioxide (CO2) levels soared in 2011, putting its per capita emissions on a par for the first time with those of Europe, while global levels of the greenhouse gas hit another all-time high, a ...

Recommended for you

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

17 hours ago

New Zealand's pastoral landscapes are some of the loveliest in the world, but they also contain a hidden threat. Many of the country's pasture soils have become enriched in cadmium. Grasses take up this toxic heavy metal, ...

Oil drilling possible 'trigger' for deadly Italy quakes

21 hours ago

Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Tuesday suspended new drilling as it published a report that warned that hydrocarbon exploitation may have acted as a "trigger" in twin earthquakes that killed 26 people in ...

Snow is largely a no-show for Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

21 hours ago

On March 1, 65 mushers and their teams of dogs left Anchorage, Alaska, on a quest to win the Iditarod—a race covering 1,000 miles of mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, tundra and coastline. According ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

21 hours ago

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

Study shows less snowpack will harm ecosystem

22 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new study by CAS Professor of Biology Pamela Templer shows that milder winters can have a negative impact both on trees and on the water quality of nearby aquatic ecosystems, far into the warm growing season.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.