Better Environment, Healthier People


Press Statement

22 November 2005

Environment Agency report on Environment and Health

The Health Protection Agency welcomes the publication of the Environment Agency’s (EA) report Better Environment, Healthier People (1). It recognises the impact of the environment on health and well-being and in particular the effects of flooding and climate change, poor air quality, chemicals, inequalities and outdoor recreation.

There are approximately 30,000 chemicals in common use and less than 1% of these have been subject to assessment of toxicity and health risk (2). In addition, the long-term consequences of low level, chronic exposure to most chemicals and poisons are poorly understood although about 8-9% of the total disease burden has been estimated to be attributed to pollution (3). Consequently, the Health Protection Agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with EA, and the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division of HPA is working jointly with the EA on a range of environmental health issues including the development of an Environmental Public Health Tracking System (4).

The Health Protection Agency provides authoritative scientific and medical advice to the NHS, the EA and other bodies about the known health effects of chemicals, poisons and other environmental hazards

(5). This advice covers issues such as:

* personal protective equipment
* decontamination and evacuation
* toxicological and epidemiological advice on impact on public health
* clinical advice on antidotes and medical treatment
* the public health impact of industrial sites
* health effects from chemicals in the environment
(including water, soil, waste)

Guidance is available round-the-clock from medical toxicologists, clinical pharmacologists, environmental scientists, epidemiologists and other specialists. The Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division also operates the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) which provides advice to doctors and nurses on the best way to manage patients who have been poisoned (6).

References and weblinks

1. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/yourenv/857406/1218772/

2. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Chemicals in products: safeguarding the environment and human health. 24th Report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. London: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 2003.

3. Briggs D. Environmental pollution and the global burden of disease. British Medical Bulletin, 68:1-24, 2003.

4. http://www.hpa.org.uk/chemicals/tracking.htm

5. http://www.hpa.org.uk/chemicals/default.htm

6. http://www.hpa.org.uk/chemicals/npis.htm

Sent by Sylvie

Source: http://www.emfacts.com/weblog/index.php?p=325


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November 2005

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