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Role of Engineering Toward a Better Environment:
Global Environmental changes: challenges and opportunities
20-22 Dec 2008, Alexandria, Egypt
H.A.M. de Kruijf
PUM, Netherlands Senior Experts
UNITAR, United Nations Institute for Training and research
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This presentation is primarily based on the brochure:
MANAGING CHEMICALS IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
TO PROTECT HEALTH (April 2008), and the
accompanying presentation of IFCS, The
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety
author and contributors:
Katherine Shea
Lilian Corra
Jenny Pronczuk
Marie-Noel Brune
Photographs, unless otherwise indicated: by the author
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
2
Climate change and Chemical safety
introductory remarks

The threat of accelerating climate change may
significantly alter global and local development,
and thus may also change use, distribution and
degradation of chemicals in ways that could affect
human health and environment.

Little has been published up to now addressing
issues of climate change and chemical safety, in
short the possible risks associated with climate
change and chemicals.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
3
Climate change and Chemical safety
introductory remarks
In the following presentations we explore
 How climate change may alter human and
environmental exposure to chemicals
 Identify who may be particularly at risk of adverse
effects
 Suggest actions that can be taken now to reduce
adverse impacts on human health and
environment (by chemicals); or better: questions
that should be raised to identify those actions!
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
4
Climate change and Chemical safety
introductory remarks
Climate change is more than a warming trend:
 Increasing temperatures will lead to changes in many
aspects of weather, such as winds patterns, amount
and type precipitation, type and frequency of severe
weather events
 Global sea level could rise, causing damage to
coastal regions through flooding and erosion
 Climate of various regions could change too quickly
for many plants and animal species to adjust.
 Harsh weather conditions , e.g. heat waves and
droughts, could also happen more often and more
severely
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
5
Climate change and Chemical safety
introductory remarks
Climate change could affect human health, environmental
health and well-being e.g.:
 Many larger cities could experience a significant rise in
the number of hot days
 Air pollution problems would increase, placing
children, the elderly and people suffering from
respiratory problems at greatest risks of health effects
 Molds and pollens may increase causing respiratory
problems
 The effects on human exposure will vary widely
according to the properties of specific chemicals and
chemical combinations
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
6
Temperature changes
precipitation
air
floods
Erosion, run-off
droughts
water
natural
soil
agricult. industr.
soil
soil
sediment
emission
Advection/dispersive
diffusion
degradation
Model to calculate distribution of chemicals towards an equilibrium;
Where does CC intervene, have an impact? (adapted from: EUSES)
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
7
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing how chemicals move and
transform in the environment
Some examples of how these interactions may affect
human exposures due to:
Extreme precipitation, storms and floods threaten water
quality
Drought threatens water quality
Increased temperatures
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
8
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by
changing how chemicals move and transform in the
environment
Examples:


Extreme precipitation, storms and floods threaten water quality:
By increasing urban and agricultural run-off of petrochemicals, industrial
chemicals, chemical waste, pesticides and fertilizers into surface waters
or enhanced through-put of supersaturated soil into groundwater;
flooding of warehouses and old stockpiles of chemicals such as paints,
solvents, pesticides will lead to potentially dangerous exposure situations
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
9
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by
changing how chemicals move and transform in the
environment
From internet
Examples:
Drought threatens water quality by
concentration of non-volatile chemicals and
toxic metals in drinking water resources.
When rain comes, parched and cracked soil
may permit rapid transit of chemicals into
deep groundwater stores.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
10
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical exposure… by
changing how chemicals move and transform in the
environment
Examples:
Increased temperatures
• will cause volatile chemicals to disperse more quickly in
the air and some chemicals will degrade more quickly
potentially creating local hot spots of exposure.
• Evaporation will be enhanced leaving non-volatile
chemicals to concentrate in water bodies.
• Global movement of persistent chemicals will be
modified with changes in global water and air currents,
and thus population exposures will also change.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
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Climate change and Chemical safety
Effect of the effect of volatility on transportation distance of POP’s
CC will seriously and unpredictably change these patterns
Most volatile
Moderately volatile
Least volatile
Global movement of persistent
chemicals will be modified with changes
in global water and air currents, and
thus population exposures will also
change.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
12
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing where and how
chemicals are used

Chemicals can be critical tools in the global
response to climate change, but

when the world warms, chemical use patterns will
likely change in several sectors and affect human
exposure levels as well as environmental
exposure levels.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
13
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing where and how
chemicals are used
Agricultural chemicals:
CC may require changes in crop choice and
lead to a perceived or actual
need to use more, different
or new chemicals to combat
pests
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
14
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing where and how
chemicals are used
Example:
Agricultural chemicals:
Pesticides may lose effectiveness
or be more rapidly broken down in
warmer temperatures which could
lead to more frequent use and more
human and environmental exposure
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
15
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing where and how
chemicals are used
Control of infectious disease
Increases in vector-borne diseases anticipated with
climate change could stimulate more widespread use of
a variety of pesticides to control insect, rodent and other
disease vectors
Pharmaceutical use to treat these diseases is also likely
to increase and further threaten water quality by
stressing waste water treatment and downstream
drinking water resources.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
16
Climate change and Chemical safety
Example of increase in vector-borne
disease and geographical movement:
the case of bluetongue
The vector: Culicoides sp. sucking blood
Bluetongue is a virus disease (reo viruses) among
cows, sheep, goats, etc transmitted by Culicoides
species. Since a few years, due to warming of the
climate the disease does now occur above
the 50th latitude. This means new regimes for
vaccination, eradication , and use of chemicals
The virus: computer model of bluetongue virus
From NRC Handelsblad, 01-12-2008
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
17
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may alter human chemical
exposure… by changing where and how
chemicals are used
Alternative energy sources developed and
disseminated to stabilize the climate have the potential to
cause large changes in chemical use patterns;
for example, the change to
bio-fuels and use of waste as
fuels could results in new
sources of chemical
contamination on a large
scale.
(And there is the question of
water versus energy!)
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
18
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals
more dangerous
Ecosystem services: some plant and animal
species are more vulnerable to heat-related harm
if they have prior exposure to various chemicals or
are more vulnerable to chemical
exposure when stressed by the
changing climate.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
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Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals more
dangerous
Climate Change may give a push to invasive plants:
Due to CC more invasive plants may be seen in more temperate
zones (and there are already examples)
These invasive plants appear to be more resistant to local plagues
thus may more quickly turn out to be a plague themselves! And
thus may well become a very serious threat to local biodiversity and
water resources. This may lead to additional
use of pesticides causing risks for man and
environment.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
20
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals more
dangerous
Ecosystem services;
It is possible that the adverse impact of CC on
the ecosystems that provide us with food,
fiber and useful chemicals could
be greater in a warmer global
environment!
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
21
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals more
dangerous
Increased toxicity
Increased ambient temperatures may have direct impact
on toxicity levels in exposed humans

Evidence from medicine (chemicals and fever), drugs and
temperature)
 Impact on developmental toxicity
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
22
Climate change and Chemical safety
Climate change may make some chemicals more
dangerous

Well described increased toxicity of chemicals in
higher ambient temperatures under experimental
conditions
It is not clear that this relationship will dominate in the
complex world of multiple stressors, but it does
support the arguments to minimize all chemical
exposures as we seek to meet the challenges of a
warming world.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
23
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
Because of inherent characteristics…..
Age and general health affect any
individual’s ability to withstand harm
from a variety of chemical exposures.
some groups at increased risks are:
Foetuses
Children
Elderly people
Medical illness
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
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Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
Because of inherent characteristics…..
Foetuses: are susceptible to permanent harms from even
brief exposures in utero as might happen after a water
Contamination event such as a flood, or a high dose exposure
From pesticide spraying
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
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Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
Because of inherent characteristics…..

High risk children:
 In developing countries where water and food scarcity
cause wide spread malnutrition
 Where CC will cause increased vector-borne diseases
(e.g. malaria)
 Where agriculture will require high chemical inputs
 Where children working at jobs with potential high
exposures: agriculture, rag
picking, recycling (batteries,
waste etc)
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
26
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
Because of inherent characteristics…..

Elderly people may have lost the physical ability to
avoid exposure and/or the physiologic capacity to
withstand exposures that
may have been in younger
years relatively non-toxic.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
27
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
………………….because of circumstances
Poverty limits adaptive responses
to both climate change and chemical
exposures.
Malnutrition, particularly in the very
young, may compound and worsen
effects from any toxic chemical
exposure
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
28
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
…………because of circumstances

Geography is a major determinant of which health
threats from climate change are most likely, and places
entire populations at increased risk.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
29
Climate change and Chemical safety
Example:
low lying coastal communities are more
susceptible to floods and storms which may be
complicated by chemical contamination of drinking
water, fields, food crops, and living spaces
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
30
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
………………..because of circumstances
Occupations that involve the use of chemicals, such as
agricultural work, may be increasingly risky because of
increased chemical use,
change in chemicals used
and rapid development
of new chemicals
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
31
Climate change and Chemical safety
Some groups are more vulnerable
………………..because of circumstances
Public Health infrastructure, including the health
care systems, as well s chemical safety laws,
regulations, surveillance and enforcement, are
critical to minimizing injury and illness related to
CC and chemical exposures.
In those areas where these basic services are
lacking, whole populations are at increased risk.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
32
Climate change and Chemical safety

THE FUTURE:

Lots of questions but answers????
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
33
Role of Engineering Toward a Better Environment:
Global Environmental changes: challenges and
opportunities
20-22 Dec 2008, Alexandria, Egypt
H.A.M. de Kruijf
PUM, UNITAR
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
34
Climate change and Chemical safety
Starting statements:
We need all tools to respond to Climate Change; this
includes existing and new chemicals as well as nonchemical alternatives
 Protecting human health and particularly the health of
those who are most vulnerable, must be central part of
all climate adaptive strategies including chemical use
and management
 As climate change accelerates and we feel the urgent
need to both reduce emissions and respond to public
health threats, it is critical that we do not loose sight of
the need to strengthen and improve systems to ensure
chemical safety.

RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
35
Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (1)
When considering any climate-related problem, a
number of questions relevant to the use of an
additional chemical for any reason should be
answered :





Will using a chemical solve this problem?
What is known about the toxicity and exposure to the most
vulnerable humans?
What is known about the potential harm to ecosystem
services?
Are there non-chemical solutions for this problem?
Are there multiple chemicals that could be used to solve the
problem?
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
36
Ecological Risk Assessment
A systematic approach
is necessary to study
this sort of problems,
such the ecological risk
assessment system
Suter, 2007
PROBLEM FORMULATION
ANALYSIS
Discussion
Between the
Risk assessor
And
Risk manager
(Planning)
Characterization
of
exposure
Characterization
of
ecological
effects
RISK CHARACTERIZATION
Discussion between the Risk
assessor and
Risk Manager (Results)
Risk Management
UNESCO-IHE module on Aquatic toxicology
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
37
Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (2)





Is there equivalent information on toxicity and exposure
for each alternative?
Which is least toxic?
What are relative toxicities and efficacies of the viable
solutions?
What is unique about the location, geography,
topography, level of development, or population
characteristics which will affect movement and
breakdown of the chemical under consideration?
What are critical human exposures likely to be?
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
38
Climate change and Chemical safety
QUESTIONS!!!! (3)




Can chemical use be minimized or eliminated
over time through alternative management
strategies?
Will use of this chemical create new or persistent
problems for human health or ecosystem integrity?
Do we have adequate chemical safety and
management systems in place?
Will the changing climate increase or decrease
human exposure, or make this chemical more or
less effective or toxic over time?
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
39
Climate change and Chemical safety
We can not say :
or:
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
40
Climate change and Chemical safety

What could be your role in the prevention of
such hazards? Develop, work on…..
 Measures to decrease or lower the rate of climate




change!
Measures to adapt to the new and predicted
changes: water resources management, waste
management, chemicals management (industry,
agriculture, pharmaceuticals) etc!
Measures to prevent negative health effects on
humans, on the environment!
Measures that develop innovative new
constructions where necessary !
Techniques for a better balance between use of
limited water resources
and energy production!
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
41
Climate change and Chemical safety
I
Identify the
problem
To develop strategies to solve
or at least try to solve these
Problems, one could use a
so-called Risk Reduction
Strategy Model
as developed and applied by
UNITAR
II
Develop risk
reduction
goals
VI
Implement
and evaluate
Involve
interested
and affected
parties
V
Double check
III
Identify and
evaluate
options
IV
Select risk
reduction
strategy
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
42
Climate change and Chemical safety


Although the relation between climate change and
chemical safety has received little attention,
developing ideas and working on these issues are
part of an international agreement: Strategic
Approach to International Chemicals Management
(SAICM).
SAICM is a global policy framework to support efforts
to achieve the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation
goal that, by 2020, chemicals should be produced
and used in ways that lead to the minimization of
significant adverse effects on human health and the
environment. (and that includes of course CC and chemical
safety!)
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
43
Climate change and Chemical safety



The Dubai declaration on International Chemicals Management and
the accompanying Over Arching Policy Strategy (Feb 2006) identify
key elements of chemical safety which will be increasingly
important within the context of global climate change.
The declaration stresses the need to protect vulnerable
populations (including children and unborn children), promote green
chemistry, and operate within a context of transparency,
partnership, and accountability among all sectors of society.
In particular there is a call for public access to appropriate
information and knowledge on chemicals throughout their life cycle,
including the risks that they pose to human health and the
environment.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
44
Climate change and Chemical safety



Risk reduction to minimize significant adverse effects on
human health and the environment is the first strategic
objective; How? By pollution prevention, precaution, life
cycle analysis, and promotion of environmentally sound and
safer chemical and non-chemical alternatives are all
enumerated as strategies. (using e.g. Life Cycle Analysis,
LCA)
Additional areas of action include optimization of knowledge
and information, governance, capacity building and technical
cooperation.
As work progresses to improve chemical management from
the local to the international level, the changes in chemical
risk associated with accelerating global climate change
must be placed permanently on the agenda.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
45
RAW MATERIALS
LIFE CYCLE OF A
CHEMICAL
Production
intermediates
non-isolated
SUBSTANCE 1
Processing
on site
Life cycle of a chemical
substance. Emissions to
the environment can
occur at any point in
this cycle.
Hum. Ecol. Risk Assess.
9 (1) 292, 2004
Isolation
isolated
Processing
off site
Formulation
SUBSTANCE 2
Industrial
use
Private use
Processing
processing aid
Processing
in product
Processing
processing aid
Use of product,
articles
Waste
Processing
product
Use of product,
articles
Recovery
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
46
Climate change and Chemical safety

In the past many chemicals have been used without
sufficient knowledge and consideration of the cost to
human health and ecosystem function.

Even now, capacities and capabilities of many countries
to protect their citizens from the potential adverse
effects of chemicals and soundly manage the use of
chemicals, are inadequate; facing the new and
expanded problems posed by climate change, these
countries most certainly will be additionally challenged.
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
47
Climate change and Chemical safety

Information and training will be needed to ensure
the sound management and use of newly
developed chemicals, or existing chemicals in new
locations and applications specifically under the
new uncertain circumstances (CC).

Targeted research and application of a
precautionary approach are essential to protect
human health and ecosystem integrity from harm
as we strive for a sustainable world; especially
considering the challenges by the Climate Change
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
48
Climate change and Chemical safety
THANK YOU!!
References can be found in the
indicated brochure as well as on
the website of IFCS:
www.ifcs.ch
The future
Source of life starts
here: beginning of the
NILE
RETBE, Alexandria, Egypt, December 2008
49