LAHORE: The Federal Ministry of Climate Change is implementing a project titled ‘Comprehensive Reduction and Elimination of Persistent Organic Pollutants’ (POPs) across the country.

The objective of the project is to reduce risks of POPs on human health and environment by enhancing management capacities through legislation, management and disposal of 1,200 metric tonnes of POPs and 300 metric tonnes of polychlorinated biphenyl stored at various locations across the country.

According to a component about the transport and disposal of POPs, the project has worked towards the provision of Gas Chromatogram and Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) equipment along with consumables to all seven Environment Protection Agencies (EPAs) from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and the federal capital.

Furthermore, on the request of all the EPAs, the project has provided training to the lab staff of the agencies regarding operation of the GCMS equipment.

Noor Muhammad, deputy director of the EPA Rawalpindi, told Dawn that the instrument was a combination of Gas Chromatogram (GC) and Mass Spectrometry (MS) technologies.

“To know about any noxious elements and poisonous solvents present in a water body or air, it must be measured first,” he said. “The GCMS will help obtain these measurements. The seven EPAs have to be given these instruments, therefore, the officials were provided training for this.”

He said the POPs project was being carried out by the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with the UN Development Programme.

He said prior to this there was no technology to measure these chemicals or solvents, but now with the help of the GCMS, even traces could be detected. “It is a positive change that now all EPAs have the capacity,” he added.

GCMS can also be used in drug detection, fire investigation, environmental analysis, explosives’ investigation and identification of ‘unknown samples’. It may also be used to detect substances in luggage or on human beings and can be used at airports; or to trace elements in materials that were previously thought to have disintegrated beyond identification – even tiny amounts.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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