A sustainable perspective on protecting health from chemicals

© Dorota Jarosinska/WHO

The growing scientific evidence of human health effects of exposure to chemicals, especially at vulnerable life stages, confirms that sound management of chemicals is a health issue. With the aim of promoting a more integrative approach on this topic, WHO/Europe organized a meeting on “Chemical policies and programmes to protect human health and environment in a sustainability perspective” in Bonn, Germany on 4–5 July 2016.

At this technical meeting, the representatives of 27 Member States from the WHO European Region, invited experts and stakeholders discussed possible health considerations related to chemicals and priority actions within the relevant global and regional policies and initiatives, including the sustainable development agenda.

Through sharing scientific knowledge, experiences, and good practices in regulating chemicals at national and international levels, the meeting aimed to explore integrated approaches to protect human health through sustainable use of chemicals. The meeting had a particular focus on vulnerable population groups and life stages, especially early-life exposure to chemicals. It highlighted existing mechanisms and new opportunities for protecting health from chemical impacts, including mainstreaming of chemical policies into national development agendas and strengthening collaboration of governments, stakeholders and individuals to prevent exposures and related risks.

The outcomes of the meeting contributed to the identification of actions leading to progress in protecting human health from the negative impacts of chemicals. This will facilitate the development of a roadmap following the World Health Assembly resolution on the role of the health sector in chemicals management, and formulation of a policy commitment for consideration at the 6th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health to take place in 2017.