Ghana Chemical Society advocates legislation to control acquisition, use of toxic chemicals

By Isaac Arkoh

Cape Coast, May 20, GNA – The Ghana Chemical Society has advocated an urgent legislation on unbridled acquisition and use of toxic chemicals in the country.

The push is aligned with efforts to enhance chemicals management, particularly acid, mercury, cyanide, weedicides and pesticides that have flooded the market.

Professor David Essumang, the President of the Society, said Ghana’s involvement in international agreements and procedures relating to chemicals management underscored the importance of regulating chemical usage in the country.

Speaking at the 20th Anniversary Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Society in Cape Coast, he noted that the absence of legislation to combat the influx of dangerous chemicals had been the major setback to the regulation of the sale and use of those chemicals.

The conference assembled players in the manufacturing and distribution industry, as well as academia to take stock of their activities within the last year.

“As a country, we have had to fall on other regulations, including the legislation on the use of hazardous chemicals and the one on pesticides. But we cannot apply punitive measures on people who fail to comply because there is no legislation,” he said.

“Our efforts need the buy-in, as well as support from all stakeholders.”

Delivering the keynote address on the topic: “Chemistry: Making the World a Better Place,” Prof James Dankwa, visiting Professor, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, said the use of mercury and cyanide in illegal mining had severe environmental and health impacts.

He warned that the continuous use of mercury from illegal mining polluted water bodies affected aquatic life and human health, while cyanide usage posed risk to ecosystems and human health, with potential lethal effects and long-term environmental damage.

“These toxic substances contaminate water sources, harm wildlife, and endanger communities relying on water for daily activities,” Prof Dankwa said.

“This emphasises the urgent need for sustainable mining practices and environmental protection measures.”

He said the study of Chemistry was essential for meeting the daily needs of people through the right use of chemicals in food, clothing, healthcare, agricultural production, energy, and clean air, water, and soil.

“Understanding chemistry has become critical to making informed decisions about the products we use and the impact they have on our environment and health.”

Touching on its impact on the environment, Prof Dankwa said chemistry had both positive and negative effects, as it had enabled the development of technologies and products, which had improved the daily lives of the public, such as medicines, fertilizers, and materials for construction and consumer goods.

However, the production, use and disposal of those products had also led to significant environmental concerns, including pollution, climate change and the depletion of natural resources.

To mitigate these negative impacts, there was a growing focus on green chemistry, aimed at re-designing chemical products and processes to minimise environmental harm and promote sustainability.

This approach involves the development of safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly chemicals and manufacturing processes.

“Green Chemistry will reduce chemical toxicity, faster degradation, lower ozone depletion and less harm to plants and animals,” he said.

“On human health, it ensures cleaner air and water, safer consumer products and improved worker safety in the chemical industry.”

Business will have higher yields, reduced raw material use, lower waste disposal costs, and increased consumer sales.”