Human health and well-being are intimately linked to environmental quality. This has been recognised for decades amongst policymakers in Europe, and most recently appears as a cornerstone in the European Commission’s proposal for the 7th Environment Action Programme. This report, produced jointly by the European Environment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, outlines a number of environmental issues with a direct influence on people’s health and well-being and is a follow-up and update to the 2005 EEA/JRC report.
In the 8 years that have passed, the political context of environment and health has evolved. As highlighted in EEA’s The European Environment — state and outlook 2010 the policy focus is increasingly shifting from single environmental pollution issues towards systemic challenges regarding the maintenance of ecosystem resilience and the delivery of ecosystem services to human society. Climate change is a good example with its combined impacts on food and water security, heat waves, flooding risks and potential spread of diseases.
Where problem detection and measures in the environment and health area have typically been based on dose-effect studies of individual polluting substances and stressors, this new report makes the case for a more integrated take on health issues, acknowledging the complex inter-linkages between resource-use patterns, environmental pressures, multiple exposures and disease burden, as well as the key role that social inequalities play.
It also touches upon emerging issues resulting from long-term environmental and socio-economic trends, such as climate change, lifestyle and consumption changes and the rapid uptake and application of new chemicals and technologies. As such, it complements the recent EEA publication Late lessons from early warnings; science, precaution and innovation, which makes a strong argument for precautionary science in political decision-making, allowing us to strike a better balance between using economic opportunities and avoiding disproportionate risks to the environment and human health and well-being.
Environment and health is not just ‘an aspect’ of environmental policy, it is at the heart of it. In fact, it is central to Europe’s ambition to move towards a Green Economy. With this report, taking stock of the most pertinent environment and health issues, and combining the expertise of our two institutes in environmental reporting and scientific research, we hope to contribute to this goal.
- Setting the scene
- Outdoor air
- Indoor air
- Electromagnetic fields
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Green spaces and the natural environment
- Climate change
- Analytical and policy considerations
- Environment and human health, EEA Report No 5/2013, 30 May 2013.
- Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: 2nd Endocrine Society Scientific Statement, 2015.
- Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: 1st Endocrine Society Scientific Statement, 2009.
- Watch our DES and EDCs research gallery on Flickr.
- Watch our EDCs video playlist on YouTube.