Environmental burden of disease (EBD)

EBD assessments are used to support efficient policy-making at the national and European levels.

Ambient air pollution and environmental noise are estimated to be the leading causes of the environmental burden of disease in the European Region, followed by exposure to indoor radon, passive smoking, lead, and ozone, according to preliminary results from a WHO/Europe pilot study.

The pilot study is based on data from six selected countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom). It covered a broad range of exposures considered significant for public health, individual risk, societal concern, or economy.

Priority environmental exposures considered include: benzene, dioxins, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), formaldehyde, lead, environmental noise, ozone, particulate matter and radon.

The study aims to assess the EBD in the WHO European Region and to identify priority environmental exposures and health endpoints that are comparable across countries. The methodologies, tools and databases developed are available for wider use.

In addition to methodological improvements, the study developments include better coverage of stressors, end-points, countries, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of alternative risk mitigation policies.