Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment - FYROM
Appendix 2 - Glossary
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AMMONIA (NH3) Ammonia is a colorless gas with a strong pungent odor. It is formed from the natural breakdown of manure, plants and animals. It is present in water, soil and air and acts as a source of nitrogen for plants and animals. Ammonia is also produced industrially, largely as a raw material in fertilizers. A smaller proportion is used to manufacture plastics, synthetic fibers and explosives. It is not persistent in the environment, but high levels may build up around waste disposal sites. Ammonia gas is soluble in water, where it forms ammonium hydroxide. Ammonia is highly toxic for fish, and low concentrations can cause mortality. Human exposure to high levels of ammonia gas is also fatal. Death may occur immediately or from secondary complications after a few weeks. Exposure may also cause bums to the skin, eyes, throat and lungs, permanent blindness, or lung disease. ' In laboratory animals, long-term exposure to low levels of ammonia causes inflammation and lesions of the respiratory tract.
ARSENIC (As) Arsenic is a naturally occurring
element with no detectable smell or taste. It is a silver-gray or white
metallic solid. Organic arsenic is usually less harmful than inorganic
arsenic. The latter is separated during copper and lead smelting and
is used in the chemical industry, for example, in pesticides and herbicides.
If released into the environment, arsenic does not break down but may
change into different forms. If released into the aquatic environment
it binds to sediments, and builds up in the tissues of some fish and
shellfish. Workers exposed to inorganic arsenic dusts in air experience
irritation to the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Long-term
exposure increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and various forms
of cancer including lung, skin, bladder, kidney, and liver. The appearance
of small corns or warts on the palms, soles, and torso is also symptomatic
of arsenic exposure. Lower levels of exposure may cause nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal
heart rhythm, blood vessel damage, and a prickling sensation in hands
and feet. Arsenic is also suspected of interfering with fertility, fetus
development, and hormone production and regulation. The disposal of
wastes containing arsenic is regulated by the Basel Convention.
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BASEL CONVENTION The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (the "Basel Convention") entered into force in 1982. A central goal of the Basel Convention is to protect human health and the environment by minimizing hazardous waste production whenever possible through environmentally sound management. The Convention requires that hazardous wastes be managed using an "integrated lifecycle approach", which involves strict controls from its generation to storage, transport, treatment, reuse, recycling, recovery and final disposal.
BIOACCUMULATION Bioaccumulation refers to the ratio between a chemical's concentration in an organism and its concentration in the environment. A compound accumulates any time it is taken in and stored faster than it is transformed into other compounds (metabolized) or excreted. As the chemical progresses up the food chain (e.g., from contaminated plankton to small fish to larger fish to humans), it might become increasingly concentrated, having toxic effects on the host organism. Some persistent contaminants that bioaccumulate are heavy metals, such as mercury and lead, and organochlorines. Understanding the dynamic process of bioaccumulation is very important in protecting humans and other organisms from adverse chemical exposure, and it has become a critical consideration in the regulation of chemicals.
BISMUTH (Bi) Bismuth is a white, crystalline, brittle metal with a pinkish tinge. It is used in the production of malleable irons, acrylic fibers, fire detection systems, cosmetics, drugs, and hemorrhoid creams. It is also used as a carrier for uranium fuel in nuclear reactors. Bismuth is one of the less toxic heavy metals. Excess ingestion of bismuth, however, may cause mild kidney damage.
BTF The Balkans Tasks Force was a Joint UNEP / UNCHS (Habitat) project designed to assess and monitor the environmental and human settlement impacts of the Balkans conflict.
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CADMIUM (Cd) Cadmium is a heavy metal with a blue-white or gray-black appearance. It is primarily used in silver solder, batteries, plastics and pigments. Small amounts of cadmium enter the environment from the natural weathering of minerals, but most is released through industrial effluents and sewage. It is also an impurity in many fertilizers, leading to soil contamination. Cadmium has no known biological function, and is highly toxic to both animals and plants. For humans, eating food or drinking water with very high cadmium levels can severely irritate the stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Eating lower levels of cadmium over a long period of time can lead to kidney and liver damage, weakening of bone and sense of smell. Cadmium and cadmium compounds are likely carcinogens. The disposal of wastes containing cadmium is regulated by the Basel Convention.< align="justify"p>CARBON DIOXIDE (C02) Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas having a faint odor and a sour taste. It is naturally produced by animals during respiration, and used by plants during photosynthesis. Although it only constitutes 0.03 % of the atmosphere, it is one of the most important "green-house" gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and is believed to be contributing to global warming. As a result, global emissions of carbon dioxide will be regulated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
CARBON DISULFIDE (CS2) Pure carbon disulfide is a colorless liquid with a pleasant and sweet odor, similar to chloroform. However, the crude industrial product is a yellowish liquid with a disagreeable odor of decaying radishes. By far the most important use of carbon disulfide in industry is in the production of viscose rayon fibers. It is also used as a solvent in various industrial processes including the refining of paraffin and petroleum, and more recently in the production of flotation agents and herbicides. When released into the environment, carbon disulfide evaporates rapidly. It does not appear to be taken up by organisms living in water. Inhalation of carbon disulfide vapors may cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory tract. Carbon disulfide is a central nervous system depressant and may cause liver and kidney injury. Long-term inhalation may cause heart disease, and behavioral and neurophysiological changes. Carbon disulfide is a reproductive toxicant which also interferes with the normal development of the fetus..
CARBON MONOXIDE (C0) Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is a product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels and is also produced by some industrial and biological processes. In low concentrations, carbon monoxide can cause headaches, dizziness, and temporary loss of muscle coordination, memory and vision. Long term, low-level exposure can result in heart disease and central nervous system damage. High levels of exposure can impair the ability of blood to carry oxygen, leading to convulsions, coma and respiratory failure. During pregnancy, exposure to high concentrations can cause lowered birth weight and nervous system damage in offspring.
CAUSTIC SODA (NaOH) Caustic soda, also referred to as sodium hydroxide, is a white, odorless solid that is highly corrosive. It is used in the production of various chemicals, as well as in petroleum refining and paper production. It is extremely hazardous to the eyes and can lead to permanent damage and blindness. Contact with skin can cause irritation and burns. Inhalation can inflame the lungs and cause coughing, shortness of breath, and fluid accumulation.
CHLORINE (CI2)Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas with a strong irritating odor. It is produced electrolytically from a salt solution. It is sometimes manufactured to combine with petrochemicals to produce organochlorine products such as solvents, pesticides, plastics (especially PVC) and many other chemicals. Chlorine is also used as bleach in the production of paper and for disinfecting drinking water. Chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon in the First World War, and exposure can be rapidly fatal. There have been numerous releases of chlorine from industrial facilities, many of them resulting in deaths. Long-term exposure to low levels of chlorine is reported to cause respiratory complaints and corrosion of the teeth. Chlorine is a potent irritant to the eyes, lungs and skin. Chlorine is not considered carcinogenic in animals or humans, but is highly toxic to aquatic organisms.
CHROMIUM (Cr) Chromium is a naturally occurring heavy metal that has no taste or odor. It has -a variety of forms. Chromium (III) compounds are naturally occurring and are essential nutrients in the human diet. In contrast, most chromium (VI) arises from human activities including leather production, wood preservation, waste incineration, fossil fuel combustion, and the mining and smelting of chromium ore. Long-term exposure to high levels of chromium (VI) can cause damage to the nose and lungs, and can increase the risk of lung disease. Ingesting very large amounts of chromium can cause ulcers, convulsions, kidney and liver damage, and death. Skin contact with liquids or solids containing chromium (VI) may lead to skin ulcers and lesions. Studies also indicate chromium (VI) is a carcinogen. Data are inconclusive about the cancer-causing ability of other forms of chromium. The disposal of wastes containing chromium (VI) is regulated by the Basel Convention.
COPPER (Cu) Copper is a reddish-brown, ductile and malleable heavy metal. It is found naturally, in a wide variety of mineral salts and organic compounds, as well as in metallic form. Copper is widely used in cooking utensils and water distribution systems, as well as in fertilizers, herbicides, and paint. It is also used in animal feed additives for growth promotion and disease control. Anthropogenic emissions include smelters, power stations and waste incinerators. The major release of copper to land is from copper mine tailings, sewage sludge and agricultural applications. Copper is vital to life in small amounts, but toxic at high doses. In humans, ingestion of gram quantities of copper salts may cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blood or protein in the urine, hypertension, convulsions, coma, and death. Evidence also indicates that copper compounds are spermicidal. The disposal of wastes containing copper is regulated by the Basel Convention.
CYANIDE (CN) The cyanide ion is usually found joined with other elements such as hydrogen, sodium or potassium. These cyanide compounds are used in electroplating, metallurgy, production of chemicals, photographic development, plastic production, and fumigation sprays. Cigarette smoke and automobile emissions also contain cyanide compounds. Exposure to low levels of cyanide may result in breathing difficulties, heart pains, vomiting, blood changes, headaches, vertigo and enlargement of the thyroid gland. Cyanide is acutely toxic to humans and short-term exposure to high concentrations produces almost immediate collapse, respiratory arrest, and death.
DDT (C14H9C15) DDT, or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, was the first chlorine-based organic pesticide to be used on a wide scale. It is packaged as colorless crystals or white powder. After its release in 1939, it appeared to be the ideal insecticide due to its low production cost and apparently low toxicity to mammals. However, problems related to extensive use of DDT began to appear in the late 1940s. Many species of insects developed resistance to DDT, and it was also discovered to have a high toxicity to fish. Furthermore, DDT was found to accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals and bioaccumulate in the food chain. Exposure to DDT can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, loss of muscle control and tremors. DDT may also damage the liver and kidneys and interfere with the immune system. It is believed to be carcinogenic and should be treated with extreme caution. The trade of DDT will be addressed by the PIC Convention. A United Nations convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (P0Ps) is currently being developed to further restrict and control the use of DDT and other hazardous chemicals.
DIOXINS (e.g., C12H4C14O2) The terms 'dioxin' or 'dioxins and furans'generally refers to a group of 210 chlorinated pollutants, chemically known as the polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans. Dioxins are organochlorines and are regarded as among the world's most toxic organic pollutants. They are produced as by-products of industrial processes involving chlorine and all types of incineration. Once released into the environment, dioxins are environmentally stable and tend to become associated with sediments or suspended material. Dioxins have the potential to bioaccumulate in the food chain and pose serious risks to ecological and human health. The most toxic of the dioxins and furans, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), is used as the toxicological model for the group and has been extensively researched. It is classified as a human carcinogen. In addition to causing cancer, animal studies have shown that it causes damage to the nervous system, the immune system, the reproductive system and malformations in the unborn. The most common health effect in people exposed to dioxins is a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions that occur mainly on the face and upper body. Other skin effects include rashes, discoloration, and excessive body hair. Changes in blood and urine that may indicate liver damage have also been observed. The disposal of dioxin wastes is regulated by the Basel Convention. A United Nations convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (P0Ps) is currently being developed to further restrict the production of dioxins and other hazardous chemicals.
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EMEP Cooperative Programme for the Monitoring and Evaluation of the LongRange Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe.
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FERRO Ferro is used as a prefix in chemistry to indicate a compound containing iron with valence 11. Ferri indicates compounds containing iron with valence 111
FRY Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
FYR of MACEDONIA Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
GLOBE PROGRAMME GLOBE is an international environmental education project initiated in 1995 by U.S. Vice President AI Gore. The program seeks to enhance environmental awareness and promote opportunities for students to increase their science, math and internet skills. To date, over 86 countries and 8,000 schools have joined GLOBE worldwide.
GRID UNEP's Global Resource Information Database (GRID) is a network of information centers that provides decision-makers and the public with improved access to high-quality environmental information. There are currently sixteen GRID centers operational world-wide, the European sites being Arendal, Budapest, Geneva, Moscow, Tbilisi, Warsaw and the MAP/Blue Plan Office.
GYPSUM (CaS04) Gypsum, or calcium sulfate, is an industrially important compound that comes in a variety of different colors and forms. It is the primary ingredient of plaster-of-Paris and is also used for a variety of building materials such as 'drywall'. There are no serious human health or environmental risks caused by this substance.
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HCH (1,2,3,4,5,6 HEXACHLOROCYCLOHEXANE) See Lindane.
HEAVY METALS Heavy metals is a group name for metals and metalloids that have atomic densities of greater than 6 grams per cubic centimeter. . Many of these metals are toxic at very low concentrations. They are also persistent in the environment and have the potential to build up (bioaccumulate) through the food chain. Heavy metals discharged into the aquatic environment will bind predominantly to suspended material and finally accumulate in sediment.
HOT SPOTS Sites that pose significant risks to human health and the surrounding environment. All identified hot spots require immediate risk reduction measures together with rehabilitation and environmental management.
HYDROCHLORIC ACID (HCI) Hydrochloric acid is colorless or slightly yellow and has an irritating pungent odor. It is used primarily in metal processing, chemical production and analytical chemistry. Exposure via inhalation in the short-term may cause chest pain, coughing, inflammation and ulceration of the respiratory tract. Higher exposure levels can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs, which can lead to death. Skin contact may produce severe burns, ulceration and scarring. Exposure of workers to hydrochloric acid over long time periods has been reported to cause chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, gastritis and photo sensitization. Prolonged exposure to low concentrations may also cause dental erosion and discoloration.
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IRON (Fe) Iron is a heavy metal with a gray metallic appearance. Nearly all iron produced commercially is used in the steel industry and made using a blast furnace. The pure metal is very reactive chemically and rapidly corrodes, especially in moist air or at elevated temperatures. Iron is an essential dietary element which is used by blood cells to store oxygen. Excess ingestion of iron, however, has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Reports also indicate excessive iron can damage the liver and pancreas, leading in some cases to diabetes. However, overall iron is not a significant risk to human or environmental health.
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LEAD (Pb) Lead is a naturally occurring bluish-gray heavy metal found in small amounts in the earth's crust. It has no special taste or smell. Lead is used in ammunitions, metal products (solder and pipes), roofing, batteries, paints and x-ray shields. Pollution of the environment occurs primarily through the smelting and refining of lead, and the burning of petroleum fuels containing lead additives. In the home, lead pipes and lead-containing paints are also a significant source of exposure. Terrestrial and aquatic plants are known to accumulate lead in industrially contaminated environments. Lead is a serious threat to human health and can adversely affect almost every organ in the human body. The most sensitive is the central nervous system, but immune system and kidney damage are also common effects. Lead exposure during pregnancy can lead to spontaneous fetal abortion, decreased infant size and irreversible brain damage. Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning because they absorb and retain more lead in proportion to their weight than adults. Learning difficulties and reduced growth rate are common side effects of childhood exposure. Because of health concerns, lead from gasoline, paints and ceramic products, caulking, and pipe solder has been dramatically reduced in recent years. The disposal of wastes containing lead is regulated by the Basel Convention.
LINDANE (C6H6CI6) Lindane is an organochlorine pesticide. It is a colorless, crystalline solid with either a faint or no smell. It is composed of approximately 99% HCH. Lindane has been used as a broad-spectrum agricultural insecticide since the early 1950s and is 5-20 times more toxic to insects than DDT. It is also used in ointments to treat head and body lice, and scabies. It is poorly soluble in water and rapid bioaccumulation takes place in microorganisms, invertebrates, fish, birds and humans. However, the elimination of lindane from the body is relatively rapid when exposure is discontinued. Lindane can remain in the air for up to 17 weeks. Workplace exposure has been reported to cause blood disorders, dizziness, headaches, and changes in the levels of sex hormones. The ingestion of large amounts has caused seizures and death. Liver and kidney effects and immune suppression has been observed at moderate ingestion levels. Lindane is considered to be a carcinogen, and has been associated with liver cancer. The international trade of lindane will be addressed by the PIC Convention.
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MERCURY (Hg) Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that has several forms. Metallic mercury is a shiny, silver-white, odorless liquid. If heated, it is a colorless gas. Metallic mercury is used to produce chlorine gas and caustic soda and.is also used in thermometers, dental fillings, and batteries. Mercury enters the air from mining ore deposits, burning coal and waste, and from manufacturing plants. Once metallic mercury has entered the environment, it can be methylated by micro-organisms to organic forms of mercury, most commonly methylmercury. This compound rapidly crosses cell membranes and is known to bioaccumulate in the food chain. The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury, and effects include irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems. Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and lungs. Very young children are more sensitive to mercury than adults. Mercury in the mother's body passes to the fetus and can pass to a nursing infant through breast milk. Exposed infants may suffer from brain damage, muscular incoordination, blindness, seizures, and an inability to speak. The disposal of wastes containing mercury is regulated by the Basel Convention. The trade of mercury compounds will be addressed by the PIC convention.
METAL SULFATES Metal sulfates is a generic term used to describe compounds containing metal and sulfur. Human and environmental health risks depend on the metal sulfate in question.
MONO AMMONIUM PHOSPHATE (H6NO4P) Mono ammonium -phosphate is an agricultural fertilizer that is produced by the reaction of ammonia with phosphoric acid. Human and environmental health risks are consistent with those of phosphate.
NPK FERTILIZER A type of agricultural fertilizer containing three primary growth nutrients consisting of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
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PCBs Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are mixtures of 209 different chemicals (cogeners) that come in various forms including oily liquids, solids and hard resins. PCBs are organochlorines that were manufactured until the mid-1980s, after which they were banned due to their toxicity and persistence. PCBs have been widely used as insulators in electrical equipment. They have also been used in the production of hydraulic fluids, lubricants, inks, adhesives and insecticides. They are still found in old electrical equipment, and releases into the environment continue from landfills. PCBs are very persistent in the environment, taking years to degrade. They are fat-soluble and bioaccumulate in the tissues of animals. PCBs have become worldwide pollutants due to long-distance transport on air currents. Exposure to PCBs can permanently damage the nervous, reproductive and immune systems of the human body. PCBs are known carcinogens and have been linked with the development of various forms of cancer including skin and liver. In mammals, PCBs are passed via the placenta to developing young in the womb and via breast milk to newborn babies. The disposal of wastes containing PCBs is regulated by the Basel Convention. The trade of PCBs will be regulated by the PIC convention. A United Nations convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (P0Ps) is currently being developed to further restrict the use of PCBs and other hazardous chemicals.
PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS Persistent organic pollutants, or P0Ps, are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food chain, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. The international community has called for urgent global actions to reduce and eliminate releases of these chemicals (See the P0Ps Convention).
PETROLEUM HYDROCARBONS Petroleum hydrocarbons are formed from the decomposed remains of prehistoric plants and animals that have been buried in the primeval mud of swamps, lakes and oceans. They are a complex mix of individual chemical compounds and are used in over 3,000 industrial applications. While gasoline is the most common product, other applications include plastics and fertilizer manufacturing and asphalt production. When released into the environment, petroleum hydrocarbons undergo a number of complex chemical, photochemical and biochemical reactions, leading to a diverse number of breakdown products. Each of these products has unique environmental and human health impacts which require individual assessment and analysis.
PHARE The European Union's Phare programme provides grant assistance to partner countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) to support the efforts of those countries to assume the obligations of EU membership. The partner countries are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, FYR of Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
PHOSPHATE (P043+) Phosphate is the ion used in the compound phosphoric acid.
PHOSPHORIC ACID (H3P04) Phosphoric acid is a colorless, odorless thick liquid. It is used in rust-proofing and in making metal products, fertilizer and livestock feeds. Phosphoric acid is a corrosive chemical, and contact can severely bum the eyes and skin. Exposure to the vapor can irritate the nose, throat and lungs Although phosphate is very immobile in soil, it can be washed into streams and lakes where it can cause algae blooms and deplete oxygen levels. Phosphate fertilizers have also been implicated in reef declines.
PIC CONVENTION The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade was opened for signature in 1998. It will come into force when 50 countries provide final ratification. The Convention will enable the world to monitor and control trade in various chemicals that threaten human and environmental health. It will give importing countries the power to decide which chemicals they want to receive and to exclude those they cannot manage safely. If trade does take place, requirements for labeling and the provision of information on potential health and environmental effects will promote the safe use of these chemicals.
POPs CONVENTION The United Nations is currently developing an international convention to reduce or eliminate the production of a number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
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REC The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) is a non-advocacy, not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to assist in solving environmental problems in Central and Eastern Europe. The Center fulfills its mission through encouraging cooperation among non-governmental organizations, governments and businesses, supporting the free exchange of information, and promoting public participation in environmental decision-making. The REC was established in 1990 by the United States, the European Commission and Hungary. Today, the REC is legally based on a Charter signed by the governments of 25 countries and the European Commission, and on an International Agreement with the Government of Hungary. The REC has its headquarters in Szentendre, Hungary and local offices in each of its 15 beneficiary CEE countries, which are: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and FR Yugoslavia.
ROTTERDAM CONVENTION See PIC Convention.
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SILICON (Si) Silicon is a dark gray element with a bluish tinge. Silicon makes up 25.7 % of the earth's crust by weight. It is mostly present in its oxidized form called silicate, such as quartz. Silicon is the second most abundant element, exceeded only by oxygen. Silicon is used in a variety of commercial products including window glass, computer chips, pencils, concrete, lubricants, and varnishes. At room temperature, silicon is relatively inert and does not pose significant environmental or human health risks. However, excessive inhalation of silicon dust is known to lead to scarring of the lungs known as silicosis.
STABILITY PACT FOR SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE This initiative, signed by 27 states, seeks to stabilize, transform, and eventually integrate. Southeastern Europe into the European and Trans-Atlantic communities by promoting cooperation and multiethnic democracy. The Pact was formally launched in Sarajevo, during a July 1999 summit attended by over 40 leaders from Europe and North America.
SULFUR DIOXIDE (S02) Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas that has a pungent, irritating odor. It is produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, and the roasting of sulfide ores. It is also used in the production of sulfuric acid. Acid gases such as sulfur dioxide can influence the pH of precipitation, making it acidic. Over time., acid rain can have deleterious impacts on soil and water quality. In terms of human health, there is evidence that sulfur dioxide affects lung function, particularly in asthmatic individuals. It is also a severe corrosive irritant of the eyes, mucous membranes, and skin. Rises in urban levels of sulfur dioxide have been associated with increases in hospital admissions and mortality. Increased morbidity is evident in individuals with pre-existing respiratory diseases.
SULFURIC ACID (H2S04) Sulfuric acid is a colorless, oily and odorless liquid. Its main use is in phosphate fertilizer production. It is also used to manufacture explosives, dyes, parchment paper, glue and lead-acid batteries. Sulfuric acid is very corrosive and irritating and can damage the skin, eyes, and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. It can cause blindness if in direct contact with the eyes. Swallowing concentrated sulfuric acid can bum the mouth and throat, erode a hole in the stomach, and possibly cause death. Breathing sulfuric acid mists can result in tooth erosion and respiratory tract irritation. The disposal of sulfuric acid contained in batteries is regulated under the Basel Convention.
UNDP Since 1965, the United Nations Development Programme has assisted countries to achieve sustainable human development by helping to build capacity in four key areas: poverty eradication; employment creation and sustainable livelihoods; the empowerment of women; and the protection and regeneration of the environment.
UNECE The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was founded in 1947 as a forum at which the countries of North America, Europe and Central Asia come together to strengthen economic cooperation. UNECE focuses on economic analysis, environment and human settlements, statistics, sustainable energy, trade, industry and enterprise development, timber and transport.
UNEP The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established as one of the consequences of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. The mission of UNEP is to be the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda; promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system; serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment; and encourages international cooperation and action based on the best scientific and technical capabilities available.
UNCHS The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) was established in 1978, two years after the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements was held in Vancouver, Canada. The Centre serves as the lead agency for United Nations human settlement development activities, as well as for the global exchange of information about human settlements, conditions and trends.
UNHCR The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1951. UNHCR is mandated to lead and coordinate international action for - the world-wide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems. UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum, find safe refuge in another state, and return home voluntarily.
URANIUM (U) Uranium is the principal fuel for nuclear reactors and the main raw material for nuclear weapons. Natural uranium consists of three isotopes: uranium-238, uranium-235, and uranium-234. Uranium isotopes are radioactive. The nuclei of radioactive elements are unstable, meaning they are transformed into other elements, typically by emitting particles (and sometimes by absorbing particles). This process, known as radioactive decay, generally results in the emission of alpha or beta particles from the nucleus. It is also often accompanied by the emission of gamma radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation, like X-rays. These three kinds of radiation have very different properties in some respects, but are all ionizing radiation; i.e., each is energetic enough to break chemical bonds, thereby possessing the ability to damage or destroy living cells. The major health effect of exposure to uranium is cancer. It is suspected of causing lung cancer and tumors in the lymphatic and bone tissues.
VINYL CHLORIDE (C2H3CI) Vinyl chloride is a colorless, flammable gas with a mild, sweet odor. It is a manufactured substance that is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and adhesives. PVC is used to make a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and furniture upholstery. Vinyl chloride formed from the breakdown of PVC and other chemicals can enter groundwater, but is unlikely to build up in plants or animals. Exposure to vinyl chloride can cause headache, dizziness, fatigue, sleeping disturbance, loss of memory, nerve damage and immune system suppression. People who work with vinyl chloride have reported problems with blood flow in their hands, and occasionally finger bones have degenerated. Animal studies have shown that long-term exposure to vinyl chloride can damage the sperm and testes and lead to various forms of cancer, including liver, brain and lung.
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XANTHATES Xanthates are formed by combining alcohol with carbon disulfide in the presence of an alkali metal - namely lithium (Li), sodium (Na), potassium (K), rubidium (Rb), cesium (Cs), or francium (Fr). The term is derived from the Greek word xanthos, for yellow. The most important group of xanthates are the sodium salts produced from cellulose. These materials are processed to form rayon and cellophane. Some xanthates are used as flotation agents for the concentration of certain metal ores. Human and environmental health risks depend on the chemical xanthate in question.
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ZINC (Zn) Zinc is a heavy metal that occurs
naturally. However, environmental releases of zinc from anthropogenic
sources far exceed the releases from natural sources. Anthropogenic
releases include those resulting from electroplating, smelting and ore
processing, as well as mine drainage and effluents from chemical processes
(textiles, pigment and paint, fertilizer and PVC production). Cadmium
and. mercury are often found as impurities in zinc ore, and are released
during smelting. Although zinc is not considered especially toxic, it
is sometimes released into the environment in appreciable quantities,
and can have deleterious effects on certain aquatic species. Zinc is
an essential trace element, but ingestion of higher than recommended
levels even for a short time can have adverse effects on health including
stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Ingesting high levels for several
months may cause anemia and damage to the pancreas.
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