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The International Chemical Safety Programme (IPCS) consolidates a wide variety of information produced by a number of international bodies whose goal is to assist in the sound management of chemicals.

IPCS INCHEM provides a means of rapid access to information on chemicals commonly used throughout the world, which may occur as contaminants in the environment.


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in 1992 elaborated strategies and measures to increase national and international efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally sound development in all countries. Environmentally sound management of chemicals was one of the issues where an international strategy was elaborated, and six programme areas were proposed for strengthened national and international efforts, including information exchange on toxic chemicals and chemical risks.

Among the recommendations of UNCED was that the collaboration between WHO, ILO and UNEP in the IPCS should be the nucleus for strengthened international cooperation and that an intergovernmental mechanism for risk assessment and management of chemicals should be established.

In response to these recommendations, a mechanism for strengthened collaboration among international programmes has been set up through the Inter-Organization Management Committee (IOMC), in which the three IPCS Collaborating Organizations (WHO, ILO and UNEP) have joined with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Further, an Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS or the Forum) has been established as a mechanism for cooperation among governments for promotion of risk assessment and sound management of chemicals.

One of the recommendations of the IFCS in relation to information exchange on toxic chemicals and chemical risks was that relevant data from international bodies should be consolidated, if economically feasible, by 1997 on CD-ROM or other appropriate electronic media, together with suitable searching and updating facilities.


The IPCS INCHEM (available on CD-ROM and the WWW) is a product responding to this recommendation of the Forum. The CD-ROM and WWW products have been developed with the cooperation of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) and as a result of financial support from a number of donors to the IPCS, particularly the Governments of Canada, Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

For information on the content of IPCS INCHEM, see Contents of IPCS INCHEM.

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