Environmental threats to human health

FIGO Media Briefing, Environmental Health, London, 1 October, 2018

In the last 40 years, there has been a global increase in human exposure to a variety of potentially toxic chemicals in the environment.

Research shows that whether we are concerned with reproductive health, cancer, infertility, neonatal and childhood health or neurodevelopment; toxic exposures are implicated.

World leaders have acknowledged that minimising environmental threats to human health and reproduction is a necessity if we are to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination, and therefore progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).

“We are at the very beginning of a tsunami that will require local leadership: California has placed a priority on energy independence which can improve air quality and reduce birth defects, prematurity, asthma and heart disease. The European Union has limited exposure to endocrine disruptors. China instituted a host of measures in 2013, so that by 2018 there has been a reduction of air particulate matter by 32%. They declared a war on pollution and are winning!”

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

91% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits. Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. The lower the levels of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, both long- and short-term.

“Our first challenge is awareness: Most clinicians are not aware that environmental exposures impact health. Most of us assume that the chemicals released into the environment, that we are exposed to as we apply make-up, prepare food, or breathe air, have been studied. They have not. Clinicians need to understand that the lack of research doesn’t mean they are safe, and makes the burden of proof very difficult, because our patients are exposed repeatedly to many chemicals in many ways through many types of exposure”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA

This month, October 14 – 19, over 10,000 health professionals are attending FIGO World Congress 2018 in Rio de Janiero. Environmental Health is a core theme throughout the event, with key sessions being covered include:

  • Impact of Environmental Toxics on Global Women’s Health
  • Environmental Reproductive Health and the Heath Care Provider: Evidence based approaches to providing advice
  • Research agenda to illuminate how the environment affects reproductive and developmental health
  • “Training the Trainers” to talk with their patients and the public about environmental impacts on health

“Our challenge is priorities: When we are faced with maternal mortality, cancer, and violence, it may seem we do not have the “band width” or capacity to discuss the environment. BUT we need to help clinicians understand they are equipped to discuss this subject and lead their patients in awareness, and that advocacy for change is essential”.

Jeanne Conry, MD, PhD, Co-Chair, FIGO Working Group on Reproductive and Developmental Environmental Health, USA.

Reference.

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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