Tanzania: Gcla Raises Alarm Over School Laboratory Chemicals

LABORATORY chemicals in schools may lead to lifelong health effects to students if safety guidelines are not observed, the Government Chemist Laboratory Authority (GCLA) has said.

The GCLA has warned that if schools or teachers ignore safe use of chemicals as directed, they may put the health of children in danger.

“Some chemicals, if not safely used during practical trainings in schools may affect our children’s reproductive system. So you (teachers) and laboratory technicians must observe safety directives for using each type of chemical,” acting Chief Government Chemist, Mr Sabanitho Mtega, stated.

Mr Mtega was speaking during a seminar to build capacity to heads of schools and education officers in Dar es Salaam on Thursday over safe use of laboratory chemicals and management of laboratories to protect students from hazardous chemicals.

He said teachers have to supervise properly laboratory technicians to protect children from hazardous chemicals that could affect their health.

“People in these laboratories are affected, particularly children are more vulnerable,”.

“Though laboratory chemicals in schools are under Permanent Secretary in the Education ministry, we from the Ministry of Health have to do something,” he added.

He said the authority encourages schools to allocate budgets for purchasing protective gears when students conduct practical trainings in laboratories.

He explained that the GCLA organized the seminar to educate school heads on how to manage well laboratory chemicals as per the Industrial and Consumer Chemicals (Management and Control) Act.

“Have you ever checked the effects of your chemicals in the laboratories? Take your time and check what effects such chemicals pose upon being delivered at your schools,” he challenged the participants.

In strengthening control on laboratory chemicals in schools and protecting students, he called on schools to register their laboratories with the GCLA as required by the law.

Upon registration, the GCLA usually conducts inspection to see how laboratory meets safety measures and standards as well as provide advice for improvement.

“We are now empowering schools so that they can implement the law easily,” he stated.

Some participants commended the GCLA for organizing the seminar which enabled them to increase their understanding on handling laboratory chemicals in schools.

“Today we have been invited to get an understanding on how to use our laboratories. It is my first time to attend this kind of seminar. We use several chemicals in schools, so it is important to know how to use them properly,” Mr Abdulah Mpanda, head of Kenton Secondary School, said.

Ms Restituta Mtaita, Kigamboni District Education Officer, said the seminar was very useful to teachers because they would guide students when applying chemicals during practical training.

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