Theme of the International conference
“Toxicological Concerns in Developing Nations”.
1. Developing nations have bountiful reasons for concern about public health, environmental degradation, factors that militate against sustainable agriculture and food safety. The world advances in civilization and hazards of diverse proportion evolve with it. Sub-Saharan Africa and indeed, the West African sub-region is not free from natural and anthropogenic sources including industrial and pharmaceutical effluents, mining activities, oil pollution, household wastes etc.
2. The conference noted that the effects from some of the toxicants particularly plastics, hydrocarbons, heavy metals and chemical residues are not only immediate but trans-generational, thus compromising the well-being and future of the unborn human population. Chronic exposure to components of plastics and some dioxins were found to be associated with central nervous system effects, reproductive defects, and various cancers. Bisphenol A is a known endocrine disruptor and has been implicated in cancinogenesis, disorders in human reproductive system, altered lactation and insulin resistant diabetes. Bioaccumulation of some heavy metals, particularly lead, cadmium, vanadium and arsenic in edible marine species e.g. fishes, crabs oysters, periwinkles etc. are a source of these toxicants for man through the food chain. Lead was reportedly detected in biscuits, beverages, hair dye etc. Presentations from the researchers in our midst revealed that cadmium is associated with renal toxicity, lead causes high mortality, vanadium is linked to infertility and arsenic causes cancers among others.
The researchers suggested that conscious efforts should be made to consistently detect the sources of the toxicants, monitor, prevent, control, manage and mitigate their adverse effects. Avoidance of canned foods, non-heating of BPA plastics, and routine use of microwave plastics in appliances and the use of high density polyethylene containers which are food-safe were encouraged. Embracing the application of innovations in the use of plastic-eating enzymes to help recycle millions of oil-derived plastics and polymers in the environment is a prospective solution.
3. Participants at the conference advocated an urgent need for toxicologists to create awareness and to stimulate consciousness of members in every community to reduce risks of exposure and the impacts of pollutants in our immediate vicinity. The need to spread the concept of toxicology and public health at grass roots to the young ones even in elementary schools and to the uneducated in rural areas of the society was stressed.
4. It was acknowledge at the conference that the fight for a society free of toxin or with minimal contaminants was considered a battle for all. Government at all levels should make policies to safeguard public health and to implement internationally accepted standards on safety regulations. The involvement of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drug administration and Control (NAFDAC) in standardizing products for public utilization and consumption was applauded. More synergy with toxicologists to rid our society of toxicants was emphasized. Individuals should imbibe the spirit of proper disposal of household wastes including plastics and polythene bags.
5. It brings to mind that pipeline vandalism and illegal refining activities should be curtailed to the barest minimum because of the attendant adverse effects and environmental pollution. Government should embark on immediate remediation after oil spillage to minimize ecotoxicity.
Thank you as we join hands to create a safer and healthier World for habitation of man and animals.