Environment and health

The environment is a major determinant of health, estimated to account for almost 20% of all deaths in the WHO European Region. In 1989, concerned about the growing evidence of the impact of hazardous environments on human health, WHO/Europe initiated the first ever environment and health process, towards a broad primary prevention public health approach, and to facilitate intersectoral policy-making.

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Top story

Poor indoor environments at school

Many children are exposed to poor indoor environments in schools, with issues including stuffy air, dampness and mould, uncomfortable temperatures and poorly functioning toilets. A new WHO report on environment and health conditions in European schools and kindergartens will contribute to discussions at the mid-term review of the European Environment and Health Process in Haifa, Israel, on 28–30 April 2015.

Governance

European process on environment and health

In the late 1980s, European countries initiated the first ever process to eliminate the most significant environmental threats to human health. Progress towards this goal is driven by a series of ministerial conferences held every five years and coordinated by WHO/Europe.

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Data and evidence

European Environment and Health Information System (ENHIS)

ENHIS is an evidence-based information system aiming to support public health and environmental policies in the WHO European Region.

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Social inequalities in environment and health

Socioeconomic inequalities, related to e.g. income, employment, education, as well as demographic differences, such as age or gender, are associated with unequal exposure to environmental risk factors. They contribute to health inequities and most often put disadvantaged groups at significantly higher risk for environmental health effects.

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Environmental health economics

Member States called for proper consideration of the economic dimension of environmental health policies at the latest ministerial conferences on environment and health, noting the particular urgency of this topic during times of economic downturn. In response to this call for action, WHO has begun promoting the use of economic evidence to identify the most effective policies for environment and health, and to strengthen the case for such policies.

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