As a party to the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions, Brazil has taken substantial steps to regulate a wide range of substances and chemicals. There are currently regulations for metallic mercury, pesticides, sanitizing products, food additives, cosmetics and more. However, there is still much to be done, and many substances, particularly those used in industry, require more risk assessment and management.
The chemical industry represents one of the most dynamic production sectors of Brazil. According to the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association (ABIQUIM), the country appears as the eighth global economy in terms of net sales. At the national level, the sector contributes to 2.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and provides more than 2 million direct and indirect jobs. Furthermore, Brazil is a large producer and a major importer of chemicals.
National discussions on a legal framework for sound management of chemicals have been ongoing. Given that Brazil lacks a general regulatory framework on industrial chemicals, it has no information about the use, import and export of such substances and does not have a national inventory of industrial chemicals currently available on the public market.
To address these issues, the government created a comprehensive draft law. Among other things, the legislation establishes a national register for industrial chemicals, lays out sanctions and penalties for non-compliance and calls for the creation of committees to carry out risk assessment and set sound management strategies. The draft law needs to be approved by the National Congress in order to enter into force, which is expected to take place at the end of 2019. However, the future implementation of the new law has proved challenging.
With the support of the UN Environment’s Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening for Chemicals and Waste Management, a three-year project on chemical and waste management has been launched which will build institutional capacity that will make it possible to enforce the new legislation and adhere to the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata Conventions.
The Brazilian project aims to strengthen institutional capacity for the appropriate management of chemical substances, through the establishment of the structure necessary to implement the national legislation on industrial chemical substances. Furthermore, the project will prepare and train institutions to fufill their duties in relation to the new law on industrial chemicals. This will be done by designing a system for registering chemicals, training technicians responsible for enforcement, evaluating the current infrastructure and working on improvements and upgrades to ensure the sound management of chemicals in Brazil. The project will also promote coordination between the different sectors involved, such as health, environment, labour and industry sectors.
For further information please contact the Special Programme Secretariat at [email protected]