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close this bookBuilding Materials and Health (UNCHS/HABITAT; 1997; 74 pages)
View the documentABBREVIATIONS
View the documentFOREWORD
View the documentINTRODUCTION
Open this folder and view contentsI. HEALTH HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH BUILDING MATERIALS
View the documentII. CONTROLLING HEALTH HAZARDS: PROBLEMS AND ISSUES
close this folderIII. A STRATEGY FOR THE CONTROL OF HEALTH HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH BUILDING MATERIALS
View the documentA. Principles
View the documentB. The role of the building industry
View the documentC. The role of research and professional organizations
View the documentD. The role of national governments
View the documentE. International action
View the documentANNEX
View the documentREFERENCES
 

E. International action

The cost and specialized nature of the work involved in identifying, understanding and controlling health hazards related to building materials is such that international sharing of know-how is essential. The organizations and agencies of the United Nations System, with global mandates for health and development, play an important advocacy role by calling the attention of Member States to priority issues where joint action is urgently needed, through meetings of experts, publishing scientific and policy documents, holding global conferences and framing recommendations for action (81). Examples of such recent international initiatives include:

 

• The International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WHO, as of 1994, have jointly published over 170 of Environmental Health Criteria (EHC) documents based on research by the International Programme on Chemical Safety. A good number of these documents deal with chemicals which are associated with building materials;

• Besides the EHC, ILO, UNEP and WHO, through IRPTC are jointly publishing the Chemical Safety Sheets and the Pesticides Data Sheets and also a “Healthy and Safety Series”.

• In 1988, the ILO adopted the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 (No. 167) and its accompanying Recommendation No. 175. These instruments establish principles for the implementation of a national policy and attribute duties to competent authorities, as well as responsibilities of employers (covering principle contractors, contractors and sub-contractors), those concerned with the design and planing of a construction projects, and rights and duties of workers.

• UNEP/IE/PAC is operating the Cleaner Production Programme, which promotes the application of an integrated preventive strategy for pollution control and efficient use of raw materials in industrial processes, products and services. UNEP/IE’s APELL (Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level) Programme also provides measures to identify and evaluate industrial hazards and to verify the techniques for doing so. In addition, a technical report, Company Environmental Reporting, has been published to promote industry’s communication with the public and to provide information on toxic discharges and control strategies.

• UNCHS(Habitat) is currently implementing a project with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) assistance which investigates the effect of building materials, among others, on health. The findings of this study should be available by the end of 1995;

• WHO has also, in conjunction with UNEP, commissioned a report on the Indoor Environment (25) which sets out an action plan for improving indoor environmental conditions in dwellings world-wide.

Future international action should focus on: facilitating the formulation of housing policies sensitive to health needs; stimulating and supporting, international, regional and national co-operation and action, e.g. in the harmonization of international standards and legislation with regard to the manufacture and use of building materials, in the application of relevant protocols and newly developed standards; and in stimulating and supporting national research, education and training initiatives, through the exchange of information by organizing regional and international meetings and the dissemination of information through published material.

 

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