Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson says the Ministry will continue to build its capacity to dispose of hazardous waste while working with other agencies towards this goal. Dr. Ferguson was speaking today at the launch of the National Quick Start Programme Trust Fund Project held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
This is part of the “Strategic Approach to Integrated Chemicals Management Project” entitled “Strengthening the National Capacity under the Framework of the Integrated National Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals in Support of the Implementation of the Strategic Approach in Jamaica”.
The Project is being led by the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change and involves agencies including the National Environment and Planning Agency, The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the National Solid Waste Management Authority.
The project seeks to enhance the country’s capacity to manage chemicals and hazardous waste in an environmentally sound manner.
“The Ministry of Health continues to put the needed systems in place to strengthen our capacity to respond to the current needs of the country. This particular project which seeks to build capacity and put systems in place to ensure the proper disposal of hazardous waste is one which is in line with the actions and objectives of the Ministry of Health where waste disposal is concerned and we are happy to be an integral part of it,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The Ministry is primarily responsible for two components of the project – promulgation of the chemicals legislation and preparing inventories and doing sample collection for priority chemicals namely asbestos and mercury.
“These chemicals are known to have adverse effects on health resulting from prolonged exposure. The risk especially where asbestos is concerned is that many times we do not even realize that the substance is present in our homes and workplaces. This is because it has been used in many domestic products such as adhesives, plastics and even crayons. It was also used in construction products such as paints and ceiling and floor tiles. This pollutant is known to cause health issues such as rare cancers and lung problems. Exposure to mercury is just as dangerous and can be toxic to the lungs, nervous system and kidneys,” he said.