Children's environmental health

Protecting children from established and uncertain chemical threats: Tools and mechanisms for information towards prevention, Geneva, Switzerland, 17-19 October 2005

Children close to a barrel

Children throughout the world require safer, cleaner and healthier environments. Prevention is the best mechanism for protecting children from all environmental threats, including those posed by hazardous chemicals.

The special vulnerabilities and needs of children were discussed at the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (Forum IV) held in 2003 in Bangkok. The Forum - a broad based alliance of governments and other stakeholders - recognized that governments and other stakeholders have a responsibility to take action to reduce the sources of chemical risks and prevent childhood exposure. In doing so it agreed on 7 specific recommendations on the work that should be done by each of the stakeholders - both individually and in partnerships - one of these states:

“Governments and stakeholders should commit to sharing information on options for taking effective action to protect children

  • from established chemical threats and
  • from chemical risks where there is a degree of uncertainty.”

WHO was requested to convene a multi-stakeholder meeting to explore the mechanisms for collecting data and disseminating information.

Based on the request of the Forum and with the support of the Government of Germany and a contribution from the Swiss Government, WHO convened a workshop to focus on innovative mechanisms and tools for collecting and sharing information on preventive actions.

The overall goal of the workshop was to provide guidance to governments, NGOs and different stakeholders/parties, on how they can contribute to developing and implementing initiatives to protect children from hazardous exposures to chemicals.

Case studies illustrated different options, how information has been conveyed to different audiences, what has worked successfully and what has not, new tools and mechanisms as well as challenges in taking effective preventive action.

The discussions provided input for the preparation of a practical guidance document that will build on the IPCS Chemical Safety Guidelines on the Prevention of Toxic Exposures - Education and Public Awareness Activities. The publication will summarizes a variety of active and passive strategies to implement prevention bringing the special focus needed when addressing children's hazardous exposures.

The Workshop also made recommendations for further action at the international level and for building partnerships and undertaking specific activities at the country/community levels.

The workshop presentations are available:

Case studies


See also