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AAK Members Get Prepared For Global Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification And Labelling Of Chemicals Implementation

The Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) recently convened a training seminar for its members to bring them up to speed with the Global Harmonized System of pesticide classification and labeling of pest control products, otherwise referred to as GHS.

The event, held on the 13th of June, 2018 at the Eka Hotel in Nairobi was graced by facilitators from the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and CropLife Africa Middle east (CLAME).

MS Evelyn Lusenaka the Chief Executive of Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) and Chair of the proceedings, recalled the dedicated input that reviewers from Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK), CropLife Africa Middle East (CLAME), Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and specialists from member companies went through to condense the 527-page purple book into a 39-page manual that was customized to Kenya. Member participation was highly encouraged during the finalization stages of the manual. Low key response from certain quarters at this stage was attributed to inadequate knowledge on Global Harmonized System (GHS) of pesticide classification and labelling of pest control products. Since then, the Association’s Secretariat has been continuously giving important updates to members, so as to bridge the gap.

Dr. Ngaruiya from PCPB gave his opening remarks on behalf of the Managing Director of PCPB. He appreciated the synergy between AAK and PCPB in finding proactive solutions to enable a prosperous Agrochem Sector. He, then, took the mantle of the first speaker by introducing GHS.

What is GHS?

In case you missed the seminar, here is a snapshot of the GHS as was presented by the first speaker of the day.
GHS is basically a voluntary standard overseen by the United Nations, where signatories declare conformity to a unitary system for the labeling of chemicals and in this case pest control products (biological products are not affected). The system is flexible with some clauses of the system being customizable to suit the interests of the nations that are signatory. Some binding clauses on the use of hazards symbols, hazard statements and signal words are however dictated by the system.

The system classifies Pest Control Products (PCP) according to their toxicological, ecotoxicological and physical properties hazards as opposed to Risk based analysis which considers the ultimate end-use patterns of a pesticide when determining the final hazard classification of a chemical.

The abridged manual describes in detail the 16 physical hazards, 10 health hazards, 2 environmental hazards and their resultant pictograms and cautionary statements. The physical hazards are; Explosives, flammable gases, flammable aerosols, oxidizing gases, gases under pressure, flammable liquids, flammable solids, self-reactive substances, pyrophoric liquids, pyrophoric solids, self-heating substances, substance emitting flammable gases when in contact with water, oxidizing liquids, oxidizing solids, organic peroxides and corrosive metals.

The health hazards examine the skin corrosion/irritation, eye irritation, respiratory and skin sensitization, acute toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicology (C.M.R), organ systemic toxicity under single and repeated exposure and aspiration toxicity of a pesticide.

Environment hazards considered are the effect of the PCP to the ozone layer and to aquatic environments. The system has glaringly left out the potential effects to bees and terrestrials but the national regulations currently in force are still at hand to protect this important component of the environment. All the above hazards are important in determining if a PCP shall be registered for use within Kenya.

During the plenary session led by Dr Wagate from PCPB, participants were tasked with coming up with a pesticide label for a fictional PCP, whose toxicological and physical properties were given. The exercise seemed pretty straight forward and all groups made good headway in identifying the hazards associated with the dummy pesticide. This went a long way in demystifying GHS for the participants. You can have a go at the exercise by downloading the GHS manual from here:
https://agrochem.co.ke/download/2016-kenya-ghs-manual_15_07_2016/# or here http://www.pcpb.or.ke/publicparticipation/2016%20KENYA%20GHS%20MANUAL_15_07_2016-2.pdf .

The GHS was set in place in 2002, and the directives are continually revised with the latest being in July, 2017. Ms. Stella Wafukho from CLAME gave the African Experience for countries in the continent who have signed to the agreement. The use of hazard-based risk analysis as opposed to risk-based analysis was mentioned as one of the downsides of the system especially in the African context where this could have some trade repercussions. The Kenyan document has been highly instrumental in enabling other African countries in benchmarking and implementation of their own national frameworks. Few signatory countries have attained full harmonization but a sizeable number are on the way to achieving this target.

The implementation of the GHS is expected to gain steam once the proposed amendment to the Kenyan Pest Control products act are put in effect.

Proceedings of the plenary and group exercise sessions