A unique project to assess the impact of persistent toxic substances (pts) on human health and on the environment is underway across the globe. Conceptualised by the United Nations Environment Programme (unep), the project is titled ' Regionally based assessment of persistent toxic substances' (rba pts). The regional priority-setting meeting of the Indian ocean region, consisting of 16 countries, was held from September 18-21, 2002 in New Delhi.
Under the rba pts project, 160 countries have been divided into 12 regions. The Indian ocean region falls in the sixth zone. At present the regional coordinators are assembling and finalising their reports, which will be compiled into a final global report by mid-2003. The global project aims to help countries prioritise pts -related issues on the basis of local importance.
At the meeting the draft report of Indian ocean region was discussed. The report specifies the identification of nine more pts, apart from the existing 12 persistent organic pollutants (pops). The draft is now open for comments from the general public and experts, says P K Seth, regional coordinator of the Indian ocean region.
The main issue which was discussed at the regional meeting was lack of comprehensive scientific data on toxins and their impact on the environment. Experts point out that this data gap can deter the Global Environment Facility (gef) from funding pts projects in the region. However, according to Paul Whylie, project manager, unep, Chemicals, a scientifically prepared final report can help these countries get the desired financial aid.