EU Commission launches Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010

The European Commission launched an action plan to reduce diseases caused by a
polluted environment. The plan would develop an EU system integrating
information on the state of the environment, the ecosystem and human health. It
identifies 13 actions, which include initiatives on how to better understand
the environment-health link and establish how environmental exposure leads to
epidemiological effects. It also focuses on research activities, for instance
on asthma/allergy, neuro-developmental disorders, cancers and endocrine
disrupting effects. It calls for awareness-raising on risks affecting the
citizen, and training of professionals in environment and health issues. It
also looks at the feasibility of human biomonitoring at European level, i.e.
monitoring of blood, urine or hair samples to measure exposure to environmental
pollutants. The Action Plan is the Commission's main contribution to the Fourth
Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health of the World Health
Organisation (WHO) taking place in Budapest on 23-25 June 2004. The Conference
is dedicated to "The Future of our Children".

Margot Wallström, Commissioner for the Environment, said: "Europe's citizens
expect policy makers to act. As individuals we can make certain choices about
our lifestyles which affect our health, but we cannot select the quality of air
we breathe or always protect ourselves from exposure to pollutants that may
build up in our bodies ­ sometimes even before we are born. The proposed Action
Plan is a significant step forward."

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: "Our health
is our wealth ­ and a clearer understanding of the overall environmental impact
on human health will be welcomed by citizens. Our Environment and Health action
plan is science-based and the follow-up process transparent so that all
stakeholders can play a full part in the debate." Commissioner Pavel Telicka
added: "Protecting the health of our children from a deteriorating environment
is a long-term priority. The new Commission will continue to take the lead in
the action for children together with the WHO."

European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin added: "To prevent
environment-related disease it is essential to understand and quantify the
ng causes and related risk factors. To achieve this goal, a challenging
approach for European research has been outlined in the Action Plan. This array
of research actions is expected to lead to a much deeper understanding of
environmental health risks."

Key elements of the Action Plan

The plan, which covers the period 2004-2010, involves setting up a system that
will better equip the Commission to act. This requires systematic and improved
co-operation between health, environment and research sectors on a scale not
achieved before. The plan focuses on:

  • better understanding the environment-health link and establishing how
    environmental exposure leads to epidemiological effects. Measures include
    monitoring of health indicators, the environment and the different routes
    through which people are exposed
  • strengthening European research activities, including the four priority
    diseases identified: asthma/allergy, neuro-developmental disorders, cancers and
    endocrine disrupting effects. It will also address emerging issues such as the
    effect of climate change on health.
  • drawing conclusions from the improved information allowing us to review and
    adjust risk reduction policy, and improve communication.

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work