Researcher calls for more public education in informal chemical industry

One of Jamaica’s leading researchers in the area of poison control says public education efforts will need to be intensified, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, to promote best practices in the informal chemical industry.

Researcher Shericka Whitelocke Ballingsingh addressing a recent JIS Think Tank’ on the finding of her study on childhood poisoning in Jamaica.  With her (from left) are Director of the Epidemiological Research and Data Analysis Unit at the Ministry of Health, Dr Andriene Grant; and medical doctor and researcher Ijah Thompson.

This would include training for retailers of household chemicals to teach them about packaging and storage, under the Global Harmonisation System of Classification of Labelling of Chemicals, by which Caribbean countries are expected to abide.

Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, Poison Information Coordinator at the Caribbean Poison Information Network, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, who undertook a study, explained the rationale for, and some of the findings and recommendations of the research. “The study was done to identify the determinants of unintentional childhood poisoning by household chemicals, based on the knowledge of parents about the storage and dangers of household chemicals, observed behaviour for the storage and an evaluation of the storage areas using an observation guide,” she said.

She added that the qualitative study entailed the interviewing and observation of 360 participants across four parishes—St Thomas, Kingston, St Catherine and Westmoreland.

The Researcher explained that the study revealed that containers in which household chemicals were being purchased and stored are a major problem that contribute to the poisoning of children in the 0-5 age group.