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HEAL Newsflash - April 2011

Scientists’ Appeal on children’s environment and health

3rd Paris Appeal International Congress; Children’s health and the environment. 12 - 13 April 2011 at UNESCO, 125 avenue de Suffren, 75015 Paris

Since the first Paris Appeal conference, thousands of scientists and citizens have signed the consensus statement, demonstrating their concern about the effects of a deteriorating environment on public health. The 2011 congress focused on children’s health and environment sought to bring home the message to both policy-makers and the public about the urgency to act now. HEAL stressed the need for cutting exposure to harmful chemicals in order to better protect children. Read more…

HEAL launches new materials on environment and health

HEAL has published new material on environment and health which consolidates our work from the past year, presents our political demands and outlines our position. The position paper and policy demands add to our push to bring the latest science to EU and national politicians, whilst raising awareness of the links between environmental factors and health among the medical and health community and the public. Read more…

Banned toxics found in carpet underlay sold in EU

Discussion on the decision whether flame retardants, such as PBDE, can be used in products containing recycled materials is taking place now at COP5, the Stockholm Convention meeting on chemicals in Geneva. Two years ago at COP4, the EU supported and strongly argued for an exemption that currently permits recycling of plastics and foam containing PBDEs. These flame retardants can cause nervous system damage, particularly in infants and toddlers.

A new study shows that products available on the market in the EU do contain these toxics, posing a very real health concern. We tend to think of recycling as a good thing. But this kind of recycling is exposing us to harmful chemicals, which may be adding to rates of cancer and thyroid disorders, and may be interfering with the healthy development of the brains of our children. HEAL alongside other NGOs call on the European Union to urgently address the recycling of toxics loophole in this international agreement. Read more…

French youth group, Appel de la jeunesse, joins HEAL

HEAL welcomes the French youth organisation, Appel de la jeunesse (A2J) as our newest member – this is the first youth group to join the alliance. A2J is based in France and works at both national and EU level to improve health through public policy and promote a cleaner and healthier environment.

Expanding the HEAL network to youth groups will greatly add to in our campaigns and projects – helping to bring the voice of youth to EU policy making. A2J’s inaugural campaign called "Guinea Pig Generations, No thanks!" is featured in this month’s members’ news.

Video interviews on health benefits of cleaner air

EU-supported research findings by an APHEKOM project show that significant health and monetary benefits could result from further reducing current levels of air pollution in European cities. The findings were released at a stakeholders meeting in Saint-Maurice just outside Paris on Wednesday, 2 March 2011.

Following the conference, APHEKOM have released a series of interviews with all the panelists from the meeting. The participants range from key scientists to policy makers and experts. HEAL’s Vice President, Peter van den Hazel, and HEAL’s Deputy Director, Anne Stauffer were both interviewed. View the video clips…

Find out about health impacts of pesticides

HEAL has brought together a resource library as part of the Sick of Pesticides campaign. The library, available on the multi-language Sick of Pesticides website, provides links to HEAL campaign tools, publications and the latest science, information about our partner organisations as well as research specifically on environment and cancer.

The Sick of Pesticides campaign aims to raise awareness of the links between pesticides and ill-health, and to mobilise collective action for change. HEAL is currently running projects across Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Hungary. Many of the materials on the website are now available in English, French, Dutch and Hungarian. Visit the library…

Living downstream at Belgrade international film festival

On April 1st, the award-winning cancer and environment film, Living Downstream, had its European festival premiere at the 58th Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival. Based on the acclaimed book by ecologist and cancer survivor Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., this cinematic documentary follows Sandra over the course of one pivotal year as she works to break the silence about cancer and its environmental links.

Living Downstream’s filmmaker, Chanda Chevannes, was invited to attend the screening of the film, which was part of the festival’s HOT program. The screening was followed by a dynamic panel discussion that included Chevannes and two cancer survivors. The discussion provided audience members with an opportunity to discuss the impact of cancer and environmental contamination on their lives. In November 2010, HEAL hosted the European screening of Living Downstream during our cancer and environment week, and held discussion sessions with Sandra Steingraber and policy makers in the European Parliament. This month Steingraber has published her latest book, Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.

HEAL IN THE MEDIA

HEAL’s participation in the Paris Appeal conference last week resulted in Genon Jensen being quoted in an article by France’s leading news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), which was picked up by the 20 minutes TV (free newspaper distributed in 12 French cities) and by MCS-Ressources. Chemical Watch also reported on the meeting.

The WHO report on the burden of disease from environmental noise, to which HEAL responded in a joint press release with T&E and EEB were featured in ENDS Europe, EU Observer, EAEM Magazine and Environment News Service. Environmental Expert featured a quote from Anne Stauffer, while the Belgian daily Le Soir featured HEAL member, Inter-Environnement Wallonie.

See HEAL’s full media coverage here.

NEWS FROM HEAL MEMBERS

Council of Europe: Report on health hazards of mercury and dental amalgams adopted

The Council of Europe’s Committee for Social, Health and Family Affairs has adopted a draft resolution for the phase out of dental mercury. Members of the Committee voted on the draft report ‘Health hazards of heavy metals’ written by Jean Huss, Council of Europe member and President of HEAL member organization AKUT. The Council of Europe is an international organization based in Strasbourg bringing together 47 member countries of Europe. While the vote is not legally binding, it nevertheless gives support to the widening call for phasing out of dental amalgam.

In the discussion on the dangers of using mercury in dental treatments, Huss highlighted that a growing number of illnesses, in particular chronic diseases, are thought to be caused by heavy metals and other chemical substances that are present in our environment. The draft report will be voted on by the Council of Europe Ministers on 27th of May.

Say “no thanks!” to the guinea pig generation

"Guinea Pig Generations, No thanks!" is a new campaign that aims to alert policy makers to the health effects of many environmental pollutants and technologies – from industrial chemicals to nanomaterials and genetically modified organisms. The campaign, known in France as “Générations Cobayes, Non Merci !”, is run by HEAL’s latest member, the youth group Appel de la jeunesse (A2J) and it targets at both national and European policy makers.

The launch campaign calls for an outright ban on the endocrine disrupting chemical, Bisphenal A (BPA). Since March, the use of BPA in baby bottles has been banned across the EU, but there has been political reluctance to expand this ban to other areas, such as food packaging. Appel de la jeunesse plan to expand the "Guinea Pig Generations, No thanks!" campaign to pesticides and GMOs in the near future. Read more…

Civil society calls for health equality across Europe

While the average life expectancy in the EU is increasing, disparities between the lowest and highest socio-economic groups can be as much as ten years for men, and six for women; a figure that varies significantly between EU countries. On 14th April, HEAL member the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) called for better leadership and accountability from EU institutions to effectively address health inequalities.

The Charter for Health Equity has been signed by over 100 civil society organisations and was presented to MEP Jo Leinen, Chair of the EP’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and Staffan Nilsson - president of the European Economic and Social Committee, during EPHA’s annual general assembly. Read more…

EVENTS

3rd MayPublic Hearing on Endocrine Disrupters and Launch of SIN 2.0 in Brussels. The 2.0 version of the SIN List will be launched at this event, listing new chemicals selected specifically for their endocrine-disrupting properties.

7-8th MayNanotechonology: Impact on health benefits and risks, Kolping-Akademie, Kolpingplatz 1, 97070 Würzburg. The event will be organised by European Academy for Environmental Medicine e. V. (EUROPAEM). EUROPAEM stresses the need for primary prevention strategies in coping with the impact of nanotechnology.

20th MayInternational high level conference on chrysotile asbestos & health in Kyrgyzstan. For the first time ever Kyrgyz government officials, representatives of ministries, international organizations and civil society will discuss in public the use of asbestos and related health hazards in Bishkek, Kyrgystan.

25th MayQuiet Please: The Future of EU Noise Policy. As part of HEAL’s expanding work on noise pollution and health, we will be co-organising a conference on EU noise policy with two leading European environmental groups, Transport & Environment, and the European Environmental Bureau. Registration is now open

20th JuneClimate change - how to secure our future wellbeing: a health and security perspective. Climate change represents a threat to both human health and survival, and also to global security. These issues will be discussed at a high level conference organised by the UK Climate and Health Council, BMJ, and senior military figures.

Last updated on 23 April 2012

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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