United Nations Environment Programme
(formerly IRPTC) is the focus for all activities undertaken by UNEP
to ensure the globally sound management of hazardous chemicals. It is
built upon the solid technical foundation of the International Register
of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC), and aims to promote chemicals
safety by providing countries with access to information on toxic chemicals,
facilitate or catalyse global actions to reduce or eliminate chemicals
risks and to assist countries in building their capacities for safe
production, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals.
AGENDA 21 CHAPTERS AND PROGRAMME AREAS OF PARTICULAR FOCUS OR INTEREST:
See check list in annex.
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF AND LINKS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES:
Collection, Observation, Monitoring
Data is collected
on diskette using the IRPTC Database PC system for data entry module;
by questionnaire on notification of control actions to ban or severely
restrict chemicals; by data transfer from other organizations, e.g.
OECD, the Commission of the European Union (CEU), the International
Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS); by data contributors by national
regulatory sources via, hardcopy worksheets or diskettes; by connecting
to databases on different topics of chemical management.
Data comes from transfer from OECD for the processing and joint publication
of the Screening Information Data Sets (SIDS) for High Production Volume
(HPV) existing Chemicals; from the CEU; from the European Centre for
Ecotoxicology and Toxicology (ECETOC); from other international organizations
and bodies; contribution of validated datasets from countries and their
regulatory institutions; Chemical associations, NGOs and chemical industry.
For the Prior Informed Consent (PIC): Governments
that participate in the implementation of the PIC procedure under the
amended London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals
in International Trade submit regulatory information on chemicals that
are banned or severely restricted by Government action as well as import
response decision on such chemicals to UNEP Chemicals and FAO.
Data gathered as defined by Chapter 19 "Environmentally Sound Management
of Toxic Chemicals", Programme Areas A, C, E and F; Identifiers, production/trade,
use, pathways, concentrations, environmental fate, mammalian toxicity,
special toxicity tests (carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, neurotoxicity,
immunotoxicity, reproduction and teratogenicity), aquatic and terrestrial
toxicity, sampling analysis, spills, treatment of poisoning, waste management
and legal mechanisms.
For the PIC procedure: Information on Regulatory
control actions taken to ban or severely restrict chemicals; the health
and environmental reasons for actions taken; summary of toxicological
and environmental characteristics; known usage; possible exposure routes
and measures to reduce exposure; information on possible alternatives
to action taken; decision on future import of specific PIC-chemicals.
UNEP Chemicals co-operates and co-ordinates with many UN agencies and
other international institutions to fulfil its mandate to disseminate
and enhance the exchange of information on chemical data and management.
In this connection, the IPCS (UNEP, ILO, WHO) in particular is an area
where UNEP Chemicals participates actively in the work providing validated
data and information necessary for assessment of risks posed by chemicals
and to accelerate international hazard assessment of chemicals.
UNEP Chemicals also works closely with the OECD in
processing and dissemination of Screening Information Data Sets (SIDS)
especially to developing countries. UNEP Chemicals co-operates with
the ECETOC in order to identify, publish and disseminate international
and national inventories of critical reviews on chemicals that can be
used to prepare internationally agreed risk assessment reports.
PIC implementation procedure: UNEP Chemicals is co-operating
with FAO in the collection of data of notifications of Governmental
control actions to ban or severely restrict pesticides and industrial
chemicals, as well as data on countries import responses and creating
a joint database for such information. This activity is carried out
through the FAO/UNEP Joint Programme on Implementation of PIC under
the amended London Guidelines for the Exchange of Information on Chemicals
in International Trade (1989) and the International Code of Conduct
on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (1989).
Furthermore, UNEP Chemicals co-operates with selected
countries and international organizations for data collection on legal
regulations legislation on chemicals. UNEP Chemicals is also establishing
a Meta-database in co-operation with other network partners. This Meta-database
is an information system containing data on data-generation activities
on chemicals. It is intended to be the tool to screen and filter information
on chemical information.
Methodologies, Quality Control, Harmonization
For indicators, there
is co-operation with ILO and WHO within IPCS on Data Quality Indicators
(DQIs) of databases and banks on chemicals.
Production of validated data sets for selected priority chemicals based
on PIC and IPCS priority lists used for risk assessment.
OECD/SIDS and European ECETOC data integrated in connection with UNEP
Chemicals (IRPTC) Database for world-wide dissemination.
Reduction of computer operational costs by the use of
newly developed database interface. Information sources and data relevant
for chemical risk management are linked in an electronic network using
Effective and easy access to import decisions and Decision Guidance
Documents (DGDs) via hardcopies and electronic means ensured for all
participating countries in the PIC implementation procedure.
Production of new updates of the UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Legal File and
dissemination in hardcopy and electronic versionworld-wide.
Existing standardization methods are used for: environmental species;
toxic effects; bibliographic data according to CODEN by CASSI from the
Chemical Abstract Service, ISO codes for countries; chemical nomenclature.
UNEP Chemicals has conducted a successful project to standardize its
Database's data elements to UN EDIFACT/ISO standards.
Quality control exists by controlled vocabulary developed by UNEP Chemicals
and its co-operating and network partners.
Harmonization is being implemented by: harmonized use of nomenclature
on chemical substances; UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Data Documentation Rules;
Legal File Instruction Rules.
In other methodological areas, UNEP Chemicals developed a methodology
for treatment and disposal of hazardous chemical waste.
With reference to Chapter 19: UNEP Chemicals is presently developing
a concept for a National Chemical Information System (NCIS); and is
exploring the standardization of chemical information on Electronic
Data Interchange (EDI) formats according to UN EDIFACT procedures. Assessment
and analysis referring to the PIC procedure is carried out by the FAO/UNEP
Joint Programme on PIC.
Co-operation on EDI has been strengthened with UNECE as it is responsible
for UN EDIFACT procedure. UNEP Chemicals was working with IPCS to collect
data and validate them through Scientific Advisory Panels in order to
accelerate international hazard assessments of chemicals. It also co-operates
with OECD in fulfilling the mandate to disseminate the Screening Information
Data Sets (SIDS) to all countries. UNEP Chemicals was also assisted
by the Netherlands (RIVM-University of Wageningen), Germany (UBA) and
Japan (MITI), on data collection projects. The US-EPA also assisted
UNEP Chemicals on the Database Redesign project.
Analysis of all UNEP Chemicals fields as to whether they conform to
the standards of the EDI; reading scientific literature, extracting
data, and application of validation criteria.
UNEP Chemicals has been involved in modelling of its Databases and computer
application; UNEP Chemicals Data Processing has been conducted following
models using MERISE methodology; conceptual model of data; conceptual
model of processes; logical model of data (relational model); organizational
model of processes.
Expert Systems/Decision-support systems
UNEP Chemicals tested and is now using the Dutch "Users-Model"
for application in hazard assessment decisions on chemicals in developing
countries. It also investigated object oriented database management
systems (OODBMS) as well as expert systems namely to be used for waste
management and disposal.
Although UNEP Chemicals
does not operate an early warning system as such, it cooperates with
the UN OCHA in identifying sources of information useful to responding
to chemical emergencies. It also cooperates with UNEP Industry and Environment
to encourage countries and regions to establish national systems for
emergency preparedness and response including training of personnel.
As a result, a wider recognition has been achieved at government and
industry levels of the importance of accident prevention preparedness-response
and including these parameters in planning chemical industrial developments.
is distributed using UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Data Profiles prepared from
printout of the UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Database (PC-version); printout
of DGDs of PIC Database; hardcopy publication.
The Database which is available in PC version and
contains extensive safety data on over 8000 chemicals has been distributed
to 130 countries and other network partners free of charge. It has also
been distributed during regional and sub-regional training workshops.
These users can further disseminate the PC Database, provided they inform
UNEP Chemicals. Further distribution for private sector, industry, NGOs,
etc., is upon request to UNEP Chemicals. The UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC)
Legal Files are distributed to all Governments and network partners,
available on sale from UN publications offices and accessible on-line
via ECDIN in host DIMDI, Cologne, Germany. Different UNEP Chemicals
hardcopy publications are distributed to all Government and network
partners and also disseminated by other UNEP Regional Offices. INTERNET
and hardcopy information clearinghouses on chemical hazard, Pollutant
Release and Transfer Registers (PRTR), Persistent Organic Pollutants
(POPs) and PIC, published inventories of information sources covering
international data sources on chemicals, critical reviews of chemicals,
INTERNET guide and UNEP Chemicals. Newsletters are now available world-wide
through UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) websites, accessible via home pages.
UNEP Chemicals query-response service takes action on as many as 600
governments and other requests for assistance on chemicals information
annually. On-line access to most of UNEP Chemicals publications is also
planned (only if resources permit).
The documents are used by all countries (Governments, National Decision-Makers
and experts) in the field of chemical safety; national institutions
and centres; international and inter-governmental organizations; non-governmental
organizations (NGOs); chemical associations and chemical industry at
national and international levels; Academia and individuals upon request.
Coordination of information/dissemination is by chemicals data exchange
procedures. UNEP Regional Offices and units through capacity building
and training programmes: Agreements with the CEU and ECETOC; OECD via
1991 OECD Council Decision-Recommendations; Information and data on
PIC through a Memorandum of Understanding with FAO.
PAHO Peru (centre); ROLAC (centre); ECDIN (on-line); UNEP Regional Offices;
other regional, sub-regional and national centres act as network partners
and information brokers to disseminate the PC Database and other UNEP
Guides to data possessed include UNEP Chemicals meta-databases on information
sources for chemical management; UNEP Chemicals/INFOTERRA Directory
on Chemical Safety-Information Sources; Inventory of Information Sources
on Chemicals-Intergovernmental Organizations; Inventory of Critical
Reviews on Chemicals (ICRC); INTERNET Guide-finding information on chemicals;
UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Legal File 1994 - International Environmental
Guidelines and Global Conventions Concerning Chemical Substances; UNEP
Chemicals (IRPTC) Legal File, 1994-95 - Regulations and Guidelines on
Pesticides; UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers
(PRTRs) Catalogue of Documents.
A project on a Global Information Network on Chemicals (GINC) is being
implemented to promote information usage within the framework of IPCS
and participation of the Japanese Government. It will be the first of
its kind on establishment of a computerized and institutionalized network
linking chemical safety information providers and users. Training programmes
for government experts on the issue of UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Database
in hazard assessment decisions; concept of establishment of National
Information System/Centres. UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) websites, access
via home pages on IRPTC, PIC, PRTRs and POPs.
The following UNEP Chemicals publications are meant primarily for the
governments' decision-makers: UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) Legal Files; Screening
Information Data Sets (SIDS); Inventory of Critical Reviews on Chemicals
(ICRC). UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) PC Database contains specific data for
decision-makers on: summary evaluations of toxicological and ecotoxicological
data, waste management file, legal file. The PIC Database and the DGDs
developed under PIC implementation procedure summarize the available
information for an instant review on the characteristics of industrial
chemicals and pesticides. They are meant particularly for decision-makers
in the management of chemicals. They must however be supplemented with
country specific information to ensure an informed decision based on
conditions in the country taking the decision to control the chemical.
INTERNET: UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) websites - home pages on PIC, POPs
Network Development and Support
UNEP Chemicals maintains institutional and electronic networks. Institutional
networks: Network of National Correspondent as of 1 January 1997 - 29
Governments; Data Contributing Network Partners: several countries,
inter-governmental and international organizations contribute validated
data; Network of Designated National Authorities (DNAs) who are responsible
for the implementation at a national level of the PIC procedure - by
1 January 1997 - 154 countries have nominated one or more DNAs. Electronic
Network: UNEP Chemicals prepared many home pages for key areas (PIC,
POPs, PRTRs) via INTERNET websites. Other information and data will
also be put on the INTERNET, including the Database, SIDS and UNEP Chemicals
To coordinate the respective networks UNEP Chemicals is developing a
project with WHO, ILO and the Government of Japan to establish GINC.
The network of National Correspondents and the DNAs are being co-ordinated
with other international networks related to chemical management.
UNEP Chemicals is negotiating with UNEP (ROLAC) on establishing regional
networks in Latin America and the Caribbean; also negotiations are going
on with WHO on the Global Environment Library Network (GELNET). Information
exchange and dissemination through a unique network and unified query
response service and reporting procedures are urgently needed for sustainable
management of chemicals.
The UNEP Chemicals (IRPTC) database PC version including the IRPTC Legal
Files is actively used by Governments, NGOs, industry and other partners
in 110 countries for making hazard assessment decisions. Assistance
to Governments to build the administrative infrastructure for PIC decision-making
in the process of the PIC implementing procedure. National Registers
(Information Centres) of chemicals were initiated in about 20 countries
to assist them in improving their national legislation and decision-making
for chemical management.
Using an analysis of countries priorities for data and information on
management of chemicals, UNEP Chemicals focused its training programmes
on strengthening the capacities of countries to handle chemicals management-related
issues and policy. The specific aim of these training programmes are
to provide countries with information, tools and methodologies, technical
assistance to strengthen the countries national chemicals management
UNEP Chemicals capacity building programme and activities
implemented in Developing Countries and countries with economies in
- Regional/sub-regional Workshops and training on the Implementation
of the PIC procedure and other aspects of chemicals management. These
workshops organized for government officials and experts from relevant
institutions are organised in collaboration with UNITAR and FAO.
- Assistance on the establishment of National Information Centres/Systems
and regional networks for information exchange - 20 countries participated
in either the pilot training programme or projects to establish or initiate
plans to build a national system. To date, pilot training programmes
are now undertaken in several countries, e.g. in Guinea a programme
to establish a National Chemical Information System is already initiated.
A similar pilot study programme is being prepared for the Czech Republic
- Regional/sub-regional Training Workshops for Users of the IRPTC PC
Database: More than 60 countries have already benefited from these specialized
seminars which features training on the installation and use of the
chemicals database system. The IRPTC PC database contains over 100,000
records on several thousand priority chemicals, use, environmental and
health effects, waste disposal and legislation.
- Capacity building programme initiated for countries with economies
in transition in 1992, continues to develop capacities and capabilities
for chemicals management in the region, with current emphasis on further
strengthening national information systems, national chemicals legislation
and improvement of use of hazards and risk assessment methodologies.
Development of training material, guidance documents and publications
on various aspects of chemicals management and dissemination world-wide.
- Promotion of UNEP information, sources and material that can benefit
government experts and decision-makers to enhance capacity building
in their countries.
The obstacle for assessment of risks posed by Chemicals is the lack
of a minimal set of data for many chemicals and pesticides especially
for environmental fate data in different zones. For many hazardous chemicals
and pesticides (especially those that have been banned or severely restricted
in one or more countries) no acceptable alternatives exist. Also information
on alternatives is difficult to obtain. It is difficult for many national
authorities, especially developing countries and countries with economies
in transition, to evaluate and decide on effective risk management options
under these circumstances. The networks of National Correspondents,
the DNAs under the PIC procedure and other partners could be exploited
better as data sources of information for filling data gaps.
Office/Person (for inquiries or follow-up):
James B. Willis
15 chemin des Anémones
Tel: +4122 917 8183
Fax: +4122 797 3460
February 1997, address updated March 1999