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Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) 2020 launched                    111,75 Think Tanks across the world ranked in different categories.                SDPI is ranked 90th among “Top Think Tanks Worldwide (non-US)”.           SDPI stands 11th among Top Think Tanks in South & South East Asia & the Pacific (excluding India).            SDPI notches 33rd position in “Best New Idea or Paradigm Developed by A Think Tank” category.                SDPI remains 42nd in “Best Quality Assurance and Integrity Policies and Procedure” category.              SDPI stands 49th in “Think Tank to Watch in 2020”.            SDPI gets 52nd position among “Best Independent Think Tanks”.                           SDPI becomes 63rd in “Best Advocacy Campaign” category.                   SDPI secures 60th position in “Best Institutional Collaboration Involving Two or More Think Tanks” category.                       SDPI obtains 64th position in “Best Use of Media (Print & Electronic)” category.               SDPI gains 66th position in “Top Environment Policy Tink Tanks” category.                SDPI achieves 76th position in “Think Tanks With Best External Relations/Public Engagement Program” category.                    SDPI notches 99th position in “Top Social Policy Think Tanks”.            SDPI wins 140th position among “Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks”.               SDPI is placed among special non-ranked category of Think Tanks – “Best Policy and Institutional Response to COVID-19”.                                            Owing to COVID-19 outbreak, SDPI staff is working from home from 9am to 5pm five days a week. All our staff members are available on phone, email and/or any other digital/electronic modes of communication during our usual official hours. You can also find all our work related to COVID-19 in orange entries in our publications section below.    The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Read more…       FOOD SECIRITY DASHBOARD: On 4th Nov, SDPI has shared the first prototype of Food Security Dashboard with Dr Moeed Yousaf, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on  National Security and Economic Outreach in the presence of stakeholders, including Ministry of National Food Security and Research. Provincial and district authorities attended the event in person or through zoom. The dashboard will help the government monitor and regulate the supply chain of essential food commodities.

Chemicals.


Study of Mercury Levels at Chlor-Alkali & Light Products Manufacturing Industrial Sites in Pakistan

Partner:  EEB/ZMWG

Duration: March 2013 to 2014

Locale: Lahore and Peshawar

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Introduction:

A persistent pollutant, mercury is not limited to its source but it travels on time thousands of kilometers away from the source. Mercury is a toxic substance of global concern. It poses risks to environment and human health, especially the health of children. The safe level of mercury in air is 300 ng/m3. The study measured and accessed the management, disposable and handling of mercury and mercury wastes at the select industrial sites.

Objectives:

  • Assessment of mercury contamination in and around the select industrial sites
  • Development of baseline data for future research work
  • Dissemination and discussion of collected data and recommendations for mercury pollution control with all stakeholders, including policy makers/government officials for appropriate policy intervention
  • Publication, information dissemination, awareness raising regarding health impact of mercury in the light of data/findings of the study

Activities:

  • Survey and field monitoring at select industries in the Punjab and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa
  • Information dissemination, awareness-raising
  • Research based publications and policy intervention

Findings:

  • The lighting industry in Pakistan is dominated by imported products and there are only a very few manufacturers still operating in the country. Two of the manufacturing units in Peshawar were visited for this study. There is only one mercury based chlor-alkali plant in operation in  Punjab province. The survey and monitoring data has shown higher level of mercury levels in air than the USEPA (RfC) limits at most of the visited sites.

Recommendations:

  • The study indicates the high level of mercury contamination at the examined industrial sites and strongly recommends to follow the best preventive approach ”Waste Reduction at Source” and use of “Best in-house Environmental Practices (BEPs).
  • Moreover, it also strongly recommends ratification of the already signed Minamata Convention on Mercury (2013) by the Government of Pakistan at the earliest.
  • Mercury specific legislation for industry, including national emissions/releases standards, minimum mercury levels in products, including lighting products be introduced.

Mercury Amalgam Use at Private Dental Clinics in Pakistan

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Earlier studies carried out at SDPI have indicated alarmingly high levels of mercury vapor in indoor and outdoor air at dental sites, including dental teaching institutions, dental teaching and general hospitals in a few selected main cities of Pakistan. Studies have also indicated lack of adequate information regarding mercury related issues in BDS syllabus/curriculum offered at dental teaching institutions in the country. This study has been undertaken to assess the status of dental mercury amalgam use and practices at private dental clinics in the country and the resulting impacts on health (specially of dental professionals and dental health care workers.

Part 3 –Survey – Private Dental Clinics – Islamabad

Findings of Islamabad survey showed strikinly different trends of opinion (compare to Peshawar & Rawalpindi) among dental professionals offering dental health care service in the federal capital. We are expecting a similar different points of view from the survey work in progress at dental health care clinics in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Islamabad survey was carried out between June 22 – 24, 2015 Private dental clinics survey were carried out in F-sectors (60%) and G-Sectors (40%). Questionnaire based survey was carried out to gather opinion of the dental professionals, regarding mercury dental amalgam use in dentistry. Only qualified medical graduate dental doctors in-charge of the private clinics were interviewed and through questions, mercury dental amalgam use related issued were raised. Among the respondents 17% were females.
Mercury dental amalgam is no more used at 88% of the clinics visited (only 12 % clinics still continue to use it). 80% respondents view was that the present syllabus/curriculum offered at dental teaching institutions, lacked information regarding occupational health & safety, mercury contaminated waste management, non-mercury based alternatives material and supported the present curriculum review & revision. 84% dental professionals interviewed suggested ban on the dental mercury amalgam use immediately. In response to the question if non-mercury based alternatives material be used for pregnant women and children, the overwhelming response (97%) was Yes and only 3% No.

Part 2 – Survey – Private Dental Clinics  –  Rawalpindi

Follow up to Peshawar survey briefly reported earlier, “Private Dental Clinics,” were visited in Rawalpindi from June 29 to July 1st 2015 and carried a Questionnaire based survey and gathered opinion regarding mercury dental amalgam use in dentistry. Most of the dental clinics visited were along Saidpur Road (48%), in/around commercial/markets areas and other localities in Rawalpindi. Only qualified medical graduate dental doctors in-charge of the private clinics were interviewed and through questions, mercury dental amalgam use related issued were raised. Among the respondents 24% were females. Mercury dental amalgam is still in use at 60% of the clinics visited. 72% respondents view was that the present syllabus/curriculum offered at dental teaching institutions, lacked information regarding occupational health & safety, mercury contaminated waste management, non-mercury based alternatives material and supported the present curriculum review & revision. 60% dental professionals interviewed suggested banning the dental mercury amalgam use immediately. In response to the question if non-mercury based alternatives material be used for pregnant women and children, 64% response was Yes and 36% No.
Hard copies of published Urdu and English articles on dental mercury amalgam use, based on earlier research carried out at SDPI were also shared with all the dental professionals interviewed (detailed report in preparation).

Survey work at private dental clinics in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is in progress. 10 clinics and dentistry wards at two hospitals in Gilgit & Hunza have already been visited.

Part 1 – Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

SDPI two-member team (Waqar Ali & MAK) visited “Private Dental Clinics,” in Peshawar from June 15 – 17, 2015 and carried a Questionnaire based survey and gathered opinion regarding mercury dental amalgam use in dentistry. Dental Clinics Sites visited were Khyber Bazar, Dabgari Garden (Peshawar City), Saddar Bazar (Cantonment area), Nothia Qadeem, Qayyum stadium, University road, University Town, BISE Bazar and Hayyatabad. Only qualified medical graduate dental doctors in-charge of the private clinics were interviewed and through questions, mercury dental amalgam use related issued were raised. Among the respondents 23% were females. Mercury dental amalgam is still in use at 58% of the clinics visited. 61% respondents view was that the present syllabus/curriculum offered at dental teaching insttutions, lacked information regarding occupational health & safety, mercury contaminated waste management, non-mercury based alternatives material and supported the present curriculum review & revision. 61% dental professionals interviewed suggested banning the dental mercury amalgam use immediately. In response to the question if non-mercury based alternatives material be used for pregnant women and children, 46% response was Yes, 37% No and 17% were un-decided.

Hard copies of published Urdu and English articles on dental mercury amalgam use, based on earlier research carried out at SDPI were also shared with all the dental professionals interviewed (detailed report in preparation).

Survey work at private dental clinics in Islamabad and Rawalpindi is in progress.

Contact: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja, khwaja@sdpi.org

Chemicals and Health: Assessment of Prevalence of Health Complications and Skin Diseases due to Mercury Containing Skin Whitening Creams (SWCs) Use among the Population at Selected Cities of Pakistan

Partner: Ministry of Climate Change, GoP

Duration: 2016 Onwards

Location: Main cities of Pakistan

Team: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja (khwaja@sdpi.org) & Dr. Zaigham Abbas

Executive Summary:

The use of mercury (3rd most hazardous chemical) in various cosmetic products, particularly for its skin whitening effects, has been in practice since the nineteenth century and such products continue to be easily accessible in open markets and are most commonly used all around the world including many developing countries. The obsession for fair skin in the subcontinent is believed to have emerged with the introduction of the cast system according to which fair complexion was considered as the domain of the upper ruling class, whereas dark complexion was associated with the lower working class. It is also suggested that the migration of Aryans who were much fairer than the local population may also have influenced the dark skinned population’s desire for fair complexion. Living under the regime of various colonial legacies for more than two centuries could have further influenced the local population to perceive white skin as a sign of power and superiority. Presently, preference for a fair skin has also been intensified by the fairness cream industries through extensive electronic & print media campaigns. The most unfortunate exaggerations in some advertisements can even reach to the extent that they project fair skin as an essential prerequisite for success in both professional and personal matters.

Very few investigations on mercury added products and their use by consumers have been carried out in South Asia, including Pakistan. This brief report (full report with details would soon be accessible at www.sdpi.org) focuses on the findings of our recently completed study, to investigate the health threats and challenges due to the use of Skin Whitening Creams (SWCs) in some selected main cities (Peshawar, Islamabad Rawalpindi) of Pakistan.
The study was carried out in two parts. First, the sampling and analyses was carried out for the determination of total mercury contents in SWCs, sold and purchased by the consumers from the open market. In the second part, contacts were made, in person, with 50 dermatologists/skin specialists (male & female) in 29 hospitals and 14 private clinics of the three cities and through a questionnaire, their opinion/recommendations on SWCs related issues were sought. Samples of 20 SWCs different brands were purchased from the retail shops in the open markets in the three selected main cities. For SWCs assay, acidic digestion of the homogenized SWCs samples was followed by total mercury content measurements by flow injection mercury system – FIMS-CVAAS.
In the 20 SWCs brands analyzed, total mercury content was found to be in the range 0.13 – 26,500 ppm. Mercury content in one sample seems to be less than 0.1ppm. Eight samples showed mercury content less than 1ppm (requirement of Minamata Convention on Mercury). On the basis of the observed total mercury content in the studied samples and the health risk due to mercury exposure, the studied SWCs brands were categorized in four major groups as (a) most hazardous with Hg content > 10,000 ppm (5 samples), (b) highly hazardous  Hg content > 5000 ppm (4 samples), (c) moderately hazardous  Hg contet < 5000 ppm (3 samples) and (d) least hazardous with Hg content < 1ppm (8 samples). It is evident from the above these analytical results that SWCs users are exposed to alarmingly  high levels of mercury in SWCs which may result in mercury being absorbed, inhaled or ingested, thus causing adverse health impacts (to consumers health directly and children’s indirectly) which are well known and established. These include effects on neurological development, growing brain, nervous system, lungs and kidneys.
The summarized overall findings, from the survey/interviews with the dermatologists/skin specialists (n=50) in Peshawar, Rawalpindi & Islamabad, regarding SWCs users reasons for changing complexion, their level of  awareness about SWCs, number, frequency of visiting patients, their  age & gender and other mercury/SWCs related issues, are given below:

Among various factors considered for an individual’s reason to go for complexion change, according to the majority of dermatologists (78%) interviewed in the 3 main cities, seems to be social and not at all professional (91%). (51%) of the dermatologists thought, it could also be personnel. As a result, people use products such as SWCs to lighten their skin tone and thus put their health in significant risk. These social pressures for acquiring fair complexion are mostly directed through advertisements and TV shows that strongly suggest the viewers with exaggerated benefits of having a fair skin tone. There is consensus among all respondents that such advertisements and programs (including morning shows) should be banned immediately.

One of the reasons for the extensive use of SWCs in Pakistani population is due to the lack of awareness of the hazardous contents/ingredients of SWCs and their possible health risks among the public, as agreed by all respondents. However all the dermatologists claim that they very strongly caution their patients about the adverse health effects of these products such as SWCs that may contain high levels of toxic chemicals such as mercury.The overall flow of patients with skin disease has been found to be high as more than 70% dermatologists informed, they received more than 50 patients per week. This indicates the prevalence of skin related issues among the population of the 3 selected cities of Pakistan. The current study reveals that 23% of the patients received by dermatologists are male the remaining 77% patients females. Majority of patients (45%) visiting skin care centers are of age between 25-40 years. There’s unanimous support (100%) of all dermatologists interviewed for awareness raising, regulating the manufacturing and sale of SWCs and display of full information regarding the ingredients and their amounts in the products, on labels of SWCs products.

91% support the review and revision of current MBBS curriculum/syllabus and to include mercury related information.

(98%) support banning the manufacturing and sale of SWCs with mercury content higher than 1ppm, as pointed out in Minamata convention on mercury.

Additional information/comments received from the visited dermatologists in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, regarding health effects, popular SWCs brands and alternatives for skin care are summarized below:

According to dermatologists/skin specialists regarding the types of health conditions/ailments commonly observed among the patients who have a history of SWC use, are, formation of wrinkles, rosacea, melanosis, acne, telangiectasia, aczema rash, scaring, webbing, hypersensitivity and sometimes, dermatitis, erythema, ocronosis, skin abscess, hirsutism and even fungal infections & allergy. In addition to this almost all dermatologists pointed out that SWCs users also develop conditions such as skin sensitivity, thinning, peeling & atropy, acne formation, hyperpigmentation, including melasma, dark spots and freckles. SWCs that are most commonly used among the patients are Fair and lovely, Due whitening cream, Faiza beauty cream, Golden pearl, Stillman’s freckle cream, Arche cream, Face fresh, Gipsy Amazing cream and also Betnovate.

Some alternative treatments are also prescribed by the dermatologists for skin lightening effects, such as vitamins (C D & E), zalic acid, Derma glow, betnogenotic, Sefraderm, 1% hydrocortizone, and other hydroquinone and kojic acid based products. On patients demand, a few dermatologists also administer Glutathione injections. Patients are also advised larger intake of dietary supplements such as fruits & vegetables, avoiding excessive sun exposure, wearing proper clothing and using umbrella/sunblock when going out in the sun.

From the literature survey, results of analyses of 20samples of SWCs and the opinions expressed by 50 dermatologists/skin specialists, it is very evident that with the continued use of mercury containing SWCs, the skin is affected, becomes unhealthy and ugly looking. Besides, mercury absorbed through the skin, causes adverse health problem to human health. Such SWCs brand need not be used at all. There is dire need of public awareness raising (through social, print & electronic media), regarding the high level of hazardous mercury & other chemicals contents in SWCs and their effects both to the skin and human health. People need to understand that “Healthy? skin is beauty, not its Complexion? and people should not hunt for SWCs which use lead to unhealthy and ugly looking skin.

At present, there does not seem to be an effective check and balance in place for the direly needed assessment of chemicals in consumer products. Ministry of Health/health department, Pakistan medical & dental council (PMDC), Pakistan national accreditation Council (PNAC) through joint efforts by Specific regulations need to be developed and implemented, especially regarding standards for chemicals content in consumer products, including cosmetics/SWCs. All products need to be have proper labels (Mandatory), clearly indicating the amount of the chemicals added to the products, with updated contacts/address of the manufacturer. Consumer products, containing excessive amount of chemicals be banned for use/sale/manufacturing. EPAs may also be involved in view of environmental pollution caused by chemicals use and resulting releases/wastes. It is also recommended that higher education commission (HEC) looks into MBBS syllabus/curriculum for the needed additional information about cosmetics, especially SWCs, to be included for dermatology specialization.

WE strongly recommend ban on the production/use of skin lightening creams with total mercury content above one ppm as per the requirement of Minamata convention on Mercury.

Mercury Poisoning Dentistry- Study of Mercury levels of Air & Around Dental Sites in Pakistan and Resulting Environment & Health Hazards

Partner:  EEB/ZMWG

Duration: 2013

Locale: Select sites of dental colleges, teaching hospitals and clinics at Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Abbottabad

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Intoduction: 

Despite a toxic pollutant Mercury is used in dental amalgam fillings since it is the most economical option. It has effects on environment as well as on the health of people exposed i.e. medical and paramedical staff and persons with dental amalgam fillings. SDPI team  monitored mercury concentration in the air of dental hospitals, teaching hospitals, dental clinics and two industries. Safe level of mercury in air is 300 ng/m3. Key informant interviews were conducted to assess the handling, disposal and management of mercury filling. It is widely used in the field of dentistry because it’s the best filling material.

Objectives:

  • Identification of “Mercury Hot Spots”, in close proximity to populated areas
  • Development of baseline data regarding mercury indoor levels at dental sites and in air
  • Dissemination and discussion of collected data with all stakeholders, including policy makers and government officials for appropriate policy intervention (including signing/ratifying “Minamata Convention on Mercury”) and its implementation in the country
  • Policy advice/formulation of recommendations towards control measures for mercury releases/minimization of mercury exposure
  • Awareness-raising regarding health impact of mercury in the light of data/findings of the study

Activities:

  • Survey and field monitoring at select cities in the country
  • Information dissemination, awareness raising and local, regional and international networking, including poster competition among students from various schools, seminars, and newspaper articles
  • Research based policy intervention

Findings:

  • The survey and monitoring data collected from various sites show higher level of mercury in air than the US EPA (RfC) limits.
  • Among dental sites, mercury contamination of air was found to be generally in the increasing order operative section > corridor > open air (mostly below permissible limits) and teaching hospitals/dental colleges > general hospitals > private clinics.
  • Lack of awareness to the mercury handling, mishandling of the mercury/mercury amalgam, mercury containing waste, improper and inadequate ventilation system and lack of awareness regarding health hazards of mercury are the main reasons for the observed elevated levels of mercury in air at some of the visited sites.

Study of Mercury Levels in Air, in and around Mercury Emissions and Releases Sites in Pakistan

EEB/ZMWG – SDPI Collaboration on Mercury

For the final research report.

Mercury (Hg), also known as quick silver poses risks not only to environment but also to human health.  Its sources are quite diverse; ranging from thermometers, electric bulbs, and switches to power plants, coal fired power stations, metal smelters, gold mining and cement industry. It is also employed in some cosmetics like facial creams; and dental treatments like mercury amalgam filling. A persistent pollutant, Mercury is not limited to its source but it travels and sometimes thousands of kilometers away from the source. Mercury poses risks to environment and human health, especially of children. Early this month, 140 countries in Geneva adopted a ground-breaking, world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury, limiting the use and emission of health-hazardous mercury.

Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and European Environment Bureau (EEB), Brussels, Belgium have agreed to collaborate for a joint study on assessing mercury air pollution in selected cities in the country. The contract was signed by Mr. Jeremey Wates, Secretary, EEB and Dr. Abid Qayyum Suleri, Executive Director, on behalf of SDPI. Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project manager, and Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja, senior adviser, chemicals and sustainable industrial development, SDPI would be the focal persons for the project activities. Ministry of disaster management, Pakistan environmental protection agency (Pak – EPA), Institute of Chemical Sciences, Peshawar University, Khyber PakhtunKhawa and Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG)  have already extended their support for the study. SDPI has been an active founding member of international, also based in Brussels (www.zeromercury.org)

In the first phase, mercury air monitoring will be carried out with Lumex mercury analyzer, at Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The envisaged monitoring sites will primarily be in/outside dental clinics, light manufacturing products industry, and chlor-alkali plant. In the second phase, study would extended to other cities in the country also including  cement industries, coal based power-plants, hospital incinerators brick-kilns and wastes sites.

Team Members :

*Maryam Shabbir Abbasi received her degree of Bachelors in Environmental Sciences, from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. She has worked as researcher in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rawalpindi, National Cleaner Production center (NCPC). (maryam@sdpi.com)

*Sehrish Jahangir has done M.Sc Environmental Sciences from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi with Environmental Chemistry as major. Presently, she is associated with SDPI, as Research Assistant and has two years of experience as a researcher. Earlier she also worked at Fatima Jinnah Women University and Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad (sehrish@sdpi.org)

*Fareeha Mehmood has done Bachelors in Environmental Sciences from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. Presently, she is working as Research Assistant at SDPI and has one and half year of experience as a researcher in Energy and Environment. Earlier, she also worked at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi for one year. (fareeha@sdpi.org)

*Sadaf Nawaz Sadaf Nawaz graduated  in Environmental Sciences, from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi and has worked National Cleaner Production Center  Foundation, Rawalpindi and Military Hospital assisting in flood relief efforts. (sadaf_nz1@hotmail.com)

*Sadia Sharif holds a Master degree in education from Fatima Jinnah Women University.She had been working as Advocacy Officer at SDPI.

*Syed Waqar Ali recieved his BSC(Hons.) degree from COMSATS University of Science and Technology Islamabad.

Monitoring , Assessment and Management of Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Advancing Sound Chemical Management for Sustainable Development and a Toxic Free Asia

Sound management of chemicals is essential if we are to achieve sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease, the improvement of human health and the environment, and the elevation and maintenance of the standard of living in countries at all levels of development.

In Asia, one of the most immediate problems facing many governments is chemical management. More than 50,000 chemical substances with one million combinations are being used daily in agricultural, industrial and household activities. However, guidance for any chemicals consuming sector for managing chemicals and chemicals containing wastes is not readily available. In addition, environmental regulatory compliance and enforcement continue to be a major problem too. Hence, hazardous releases and wastes cause immediate short-term public health problems as well as long-term environmental pollution.

SDPI research, training/capacity building and advocacy/networking aims to look at the prospects and problems of sound chemical management (SCM) in Pakistan and countries of the Asia-Pacific region with a focus on the following:

  • Mainstreaming SCM in the country development plan
  • Good governance and strengthening capacities for SCM
  • Mitigating risk to environment, human health, specially children and workers
  • Best available technologies (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP)
  • Waste and obsolete chemicals management
  • Chemicals’ hotspots and remediation of chemically polluted sites
  • Education and awareness raising and role of stakeholders
  • SCM in changing climate

Chemicals of priority interest for joint/collaborative activities are Mercury Hg), Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Heavy Metals (Lead & Cadmium)

Reclamation of Chemically Contaminated Sites in Pakistan

Partner: Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon (ART), SNSF
Duration: 2010-11
Locale: Nowshera

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Introduction:

The project is a joint research work carried out in collaboration with Agroscope Reckenholz Tänikon Research Station ART, Zurich, Switzerland and Environmental Science Department, University of Peshawar, Pakistan, with financial support from Switzerland National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), a well-known insecticide, was produced from 1963 to 1994 in a factory in Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa (former NWFP), Pakistan. The factory was then closed and later on demolished. The production and distribution of the insecticide resulted in a DDT polluted area of about 85 ha. At the plant site, the soils contamination is up to 5000 mg/kg DDT in dry soil. To reduce DDT exposure of the environment and humans, this contaminated site must be remediated. The main objective of this joint research project is to test a remediation strategy that substantially reduces the bio-available fraction of the aged DDT in the soil. Efforts are underway to bind and immobilize the main contaminant, DDT and its metabolites in the soil by activated charcoal (AC) amendment. AC has proven to significantly reduce the bio-availability of organic contaminants in solid matrices due to its high adsorption affinity, capacity, and strength. The novelty of this project is the application and thorough evaluation of this remediation technique to a field soil contaminated by sequestered DDT and metabolites.

Specifically, in laboratory experiments with different soil contamination levels and different kinds of added AC (granulated AC (GAC), bio-char, and coke breeze as cheap and locally originated material), the bio-availability of DDT and metabolites has been assessed by depletive and non depletive extraction methods. Preparations are underway for the 2nd phase of the project in which pilot field studies will be performed after the AC is added to the soil according to the initial laboratory results. Overall, this technique presents, if successful, an economically sound, effective and feasible way to remediate organically contaminated hotspots in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Preliminary laboratory scale experiments have shown a considerable reduction of DDT of the desorbable fraction in the amended soil compared to the control soil. The reduction also shows that this remediation technique works in principle. Yet, many questions concerning the behaviour of AC in the field remain open and need to be further investigated before this remediation technique can be put into practice, specifically with regard to different AC materials and varying environmental factors like soil moisture and temperature.

For further details contact Dr. Mahmood Khwaja. khwaja@sdpi.org

Phasing out Mercury (Hg)/Mercury in Products and other Heavy Metals

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Advancing Sound Chemical Management for Sustainable Development and a Toxic Free Asia

Sound management of chemicals is essential if we are to achieve sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease, the improvement of human health and the environment, and the elevation and maintenance of the standard of living in countries at all levels of development.

In Asia, one of the most immediate problems facing many governments is chemical management. More than 50,000 chemical substances with one million combinations are being used daily in agricultural, industrial and household activities. However, guidance for any chemicals consuming sector for managing chemicals and chemicals containing wastes is not readily available. In addition, environmental regulatory compliance and enforcement continue to be a major problem too. Hence, hazardous releases and wastes cause immediate short-term public health problems as well as long-term environmental pollution.

SDPI research, training/capacity building and advocacy/networking aims to look at the prospects and problems of sound chemical management (SCM) in Pakistan and countries of the Asia-Pacific region with a focus on the following:

  • Mainstreaming SCM in the country development plan
  • Good governance and strengthening capacities for SCM
  • Mitigating risk to environment, human health, specially children and workers
  • Best available technologies (BAT) and best environmental practices (BEP)
  • Waste and obsolete chemicals management
  • Chemicals’ hotspots and remediation of chemically polluted sites
  • Education and awareness raising and role of stakeholders
  • SCM in changing climate

Chemicals of priority interest for joint/collaborative activities are Mercury Hg), Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Heavy Metals (Lead & Cadmium)

Review & Evaluation of Curriculum in Dental Teaching Institutions of Pakistan in View of Toxic Mercury/Mercury Amalgam Use and Exposure Resulting in Risk to Public Health

Partner:  EEB/ZMWG

Duration: August to November, 2013

Locale: Dental teaching institutions at Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta, Karachi, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Mirpur Khas

Introduction: 

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR), mercury was ranked third most toxic element in the priority list of hazardous substances in year 2011. Mercury, in the form of mercury amalgam restorative filling, is widely utilized in the field of operative dentistry. Mercury/Hg vapors are released during the preparation of amalgam filling, which impose toxic effects on human health and environment. A study was designed by SDPI to gauge the gravity of the problem with regard to awareness and expertise in handling of mercury among those who are regularly involved in use of mercury.

Objectives:

To assess the level of experties regarding mercury/mercury amalgam use in operative/restorative dentistry, control of mercury emission/releases, mercury toxicity, occupational health and safety, environmental degradation, mercury waste management, best in-house environmental practices, use of environment-friendly technologies (mechanical mixing, encapsulated amalgam, non-mercury based composites)
To emphasize the need to revise the present curriculum in the light of the above assessment and include the acquired data for better training, knowledge and sensitization of the dental professionals for mercury reduction at source and phasing out of mercury use leading to its elimination in dentistry for the protection of environment and public health

Activities:

In order to extract the information regarding mercury/ Hg-amalgam use in operative/restorative dentistry, background study of different sets of curriculum provided by Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC), University of Health Sciences (UHS) and Fatima Jinnah Dental College (FJDC, Karachi) has been carried out.
Curriculum followed at dental teaching institutions in the neighboring countries, specially of SAARC members states have also been studied for comparison and guidance.
Development of an outline on the missing issues in the curriculums with reference to mercury/mercury amalgam use, phasing out leading to elimination, occupational safety and health and alternatives to mercury based restorative fillings
Meetings with stakeholders, including teaching staff/officials at dental colleges/universities/teaching hospitals, officials of higher education commission (HEC), Pakistan medical and Dental Council (PMDC) and Ministry of health.
Publications with findings  from the field and policy recommendations
Advocacy for the need and importance to revise existing curriculum at dental teaching institutions through Letters to Editors of leading daily newspaper in the country, meetings with the members of higher government officials/stakeholders responsible for the curriculum revision
Advocacy for the  implementation of new curriculum thus developed

Findings:

The preliminary findings of the survey suggest:
Out of 38 dental institutions, 35 institutions were accessed. It was found that 40% of institutions follow the curriculum prescribed by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, 20% University of Health Sciences, 11% Karachi University and 8% Bahria University.
Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) curriculum prescribe amalgam restorative filling but not specifically mercury amalgam restorative dentistry. Course contents lack any relevant information regarding the protective measures in case of mercury spill, technical skills in the handling and storage of mercury amalgam filling, the environmental degradation due to mercury, assuring safe and environmental friendly waste management of mercury and other occupational health and safety issues, best environmental practices, methodologies and technologies.

Mapping of Chemical Contaminated Sites in Pakistan

Partner: BSI, UNIDO

Year: 2011

Locale: Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Punjab , Sindh, Islamabad

Team Members: Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja

Introduction:
SDPI inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Blacksmith Institute (BSI), USA , for the on-going Global Inventory Project (GIP) and is carrying out mapping of chemical contaminated sites in Pakistan, to safeguard public health and environment in and around the polluted site area. Other partners in this joint project are the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Green Cross Switzerland and European Commission. SDPI is the focal point of BSI in Pakistan.
The main aim of the Global Inventory Project (GIP) is to identify and assess the contaminated sites in over 80 countries throughout the world. Another key objective of the GIP is to provide data to governments and international organizations that will enable them to prioritize activities and programs that will mitigate risks to the environment & health and save lives of millions of people. One of the main site selection criteria is the magnitude of health impacts on humans especially on children.
SDPI research team visited 39 contaminated sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (5 in/around 3 cities), Punjab (25 in/around 8 cities), Sindh (7 in/around 2 cities) and two in the outskirts of Islamabad. Most of the sites are contaminated due to industrial releases, medical wastes and the open burning of residues/wastes, on times 24 hours for days on. Among site assessment activities, the relevant stakeholders, including, medical personnel, industry representatives, officials of Ministry of Environment (MoE) & Federal and Provincial Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) were interviewed, besides the direct victims – the local residents. The sampling of different segments of environment including drinking water, wastewater and soil have also been carried out and an assessment report for each visited site has been prepared in light of the interviews with stakeholders and the levels of toxic pollutants in the collected samples as examined by the research laboratories.
Keeping in view, the scale of the problem assessed so far, government attention is needed for the remediation of the identified chemically contaminated sites. Furthermore, there is a need to create awareness among the relevant stakeholders about the potential risks of the polluted sites on public health and environment.