Chemicals & Pesticides

Chemicals & Pesticides

Due to the hazards they pose, chemicals and pesticides must be carefully managed in humanitarian action

Chemicals & Pesticides

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Chemical substances are used in humanitarian programmes for a number of important activities such as the provision of clean drinking water and energy. A particular subset of chemicals are pesticides, which are used to manage pests causing damage or destruction to crops, forest plantations and domestic animals. In humanitarian action, pesticides are used to control pests in agriculture and food aid shipments, but also to control vectors such as malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Synthetic pesticides are grouped into herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides and other chemical controls. While pesticides provide important benefits when it comes to avoiding damage, their use is associated with a number of significant hazards and complexities. If not properly managed, pesticides can cause unintended and harmful health and environmental effects, including acute effects to human health, chronic exposure resulting in increased risk of disease, environmental contamination of soil and water, effects on non-target organisms, disruption of natural pest controls and resistance to chemicals.

The following steps should be taken when using pesticides in a humanitarian programme:

Resources

Training Material

UN Environment/OCHA, Introduction to Industrial Accidents: prevention, preparedness and response

The course published by UN Environment and UNOCHA is available in English, French, Mandarin, Spanish and Russian, and raises awareness about industrial accidents in order to strengthen the capacity of government, industry and civil society representatives.

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Tool

The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) 2.0

The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT) is a tool which helps identify existing or potential acute environmental impacts that pose risks for humans, human life-support functions and ecosystems, following sudden-onset natural disasters.

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Guideline

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Pest Management I: Integrated Pest Management

The document provides guidance on integrated pest management, an approach which encourages natural and cultural control of pest populations by anticipating and managing pest problems, while permitting safer pesticide uses where justified and permitted.

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Guideline

USAID Sector Environmental Guidelines: Pest Management II: Safer Pesticide Use

The document provides guidance on maximizing the safety of pesticide use when such use is unavoidable. Before analyzing the risks and benefits of pesticide use all reasonable Integrated Pest Management alternatives must be analyzed.

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Case Study

PAX for Peace – Living Under a Black Sky

Living under a black sky۪ reveals how the conflict in Iraq has left a toxic trail of destruction which could have severe health consequences for communities and reconstruction efforts.

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Guideline

UNEP Flexible Framework: chemical accidents prevention and preparedness programme

These two documents from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)Â provides guidance for governments seeking to develop, review or strengthen their national chemical accidents prevention and preparedness programme. UNEP is leading an international initiative to promote chemical accident prevention and preparedness. The initiative focuses on the development and implementation…

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Communication Material

UNEP/OCHA Joint Environment Unit – FEAT Factsheet

This factsheet describes the Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT), a tool developed by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU) to help humanitarians assess the impacts of chemical accidents.

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Report / Study

Reducing Environmental Impacts of Vector Control Chemicals in Emergencies

Disasters can create environments in which vectors can increase dramatically and spread diseases. However, the chemicals most commonly used to dispose of these vectors can damage the environment and health. This paper provides guidance on how to create post-disaster sanitary efforts that remove the amount of vectors.

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Report / Study

Conflict Pollution and the Toxic Remnants of War

This document highlights the complex relationship between armed conflict and environmental pollution.

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Partner

Toxic Remnants of War Network

The Toxic Remnants of War Network is a civil society network working to reduce the humanitarian and environmental impact of pollution from conflict and military activities.

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Partner

Pax for Peace – Conflict & Environment

PAX works to document the environmental impact of new and ongoing conflicts, and to build better responses in order to reduce threats to public health and environmental risks for civilians.

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Guideline

WHO: Health response to technological incidents

This WHO page gathers guidance concerning the public health response to technological incidents, e.g. chemical accidents and accidents related to the transport of hazardous goods.

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Guideline

FAO Technical Guidelines for the implementation of the International Code of Conduct on Pesticide management

The guidance advises on the implementation of specific aspects of the Code of Conduct concerning pesticides. Specific guidelines on pesticide use, application, prevention and disposal are available.

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Report / Study

USAID Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Phosphone Fumigation of Stored Agricultural Commodity

The Fumigation PEA establishes a clear approach to manage health and environmental risks for actors that plan to undertake phosphine fumigation in a warehouse setting.

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Communication Material

The Inter-Agency Coordination Group Brochure on Industrial and Chemical Accidents

This brochure presents the specific work of international organizations and institutions regarding the prevention, preparedness and response to chemical and industrial accidents.

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Case Study

PAX – Scorched Earth and Charred Lives

A report by PAX for Peace regarding Syria۪s oil industry, the rise of makeshift oil refining and the issues arising from these practices.

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Guideline

Addendum to the OECD Guiding Principles on Natech Risk Management

The second addendum to the OECD Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response, which outlines considerations for natural-hazard triggered technological accidents.

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Guideline

The Minerva Portal – European Commission Joint Research Centre

The MINERVA Portal is a website providing a collection of technical Information and tools supporting EU policy on control of major chemical hazards.

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Guideline

Storage of Chemicals – Guidelines for Good Practice (ISSA)

A brochure provided by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) offering practical guidance on where and how chemicals should be kept, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises.

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