HEAL Newsletter May-June 2009
A monthly update for the health and environment community in Europe.
Environment and Health Policy
Less than 1% of the official participants in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are from the health sector. Yet national health leaders and officials will be in the front line in dealing with future health crises associated with climate change (...)
The environmental record of the outgoing European Commission is worryingly off target, states the latest assessment of the Barroso Commission by ‘Green 10’ coalition of leading environmental organisations. The report, released on the 10th June, gave the Commission an overall mark of 4.4/10. The ‘Green 10’, of whom HEAL are a member, examined successes and failures in 12 policy areas that impact the environment, and set out a checklist for the next Commission. They blamed the low score (...)
Regardless of the final outcome of last week’s European Election, MEPs remain important allies to the environment and health movement. As democratically-elected representatives of citizens in 27 countries of the EU, they aim to reflect the public interest of their electorate. Despite voter turn-out being at an all time low we hope that the new MEPs will continue to play a leading role in protecting health and the environment through the legislative process. Through the previous (...-)
About us & our members
At the end of May, we said goodbye to Christian Farrar Hockley, Senior Policy Officer, and Hana Kuncova, Chemicals Health Monitor Project Coordinator. Chris is moving with his family to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hana round the corner to the European Parliament. The HEAL team are sad to see them go and wish them the best of luck for their new positions.
Report: Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Addressing climate change in health care settings (...)
HEAL member, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) celebrates its 15 year anniversary with a conference on "Innovation for sustainability; the crisis as opportunity". The conference will take place in The Hague on June 10, 2009.
Experts in the fields of economics, politics, science and technology will clarify the major issues about the fundamental causes of the current economic crisis and how this may create an opportunity for a more sustainable world.. The emphasis of the debate will (...)
Mercury and health
Old-fashioned chlorine chemical plants contribute to mercury pollution linked to IQ deficits in children, suggests an new report. Hidden Costs: Reduced IQ from Chlor-Alkali Plants Harms the Economy was released in May by Oceana, a US based marine conservation organization. The report finds that four chemical plants in the US use out of date methods to produce chlorine and caustic soda. These methods release large quantities of mercury into the air. Mercury-cell technology has been (...)
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has launched a consultation on the risks of certain consumer products. They call for the submission of information on potential health risks posed by food-imitating and child-appealing chemical consumer products, such as shower gels, shampoos, body lotions and soaps. The submissions deadline is 3 July.
Food-imitating and child-appealing chemical consumer products, such as shower gels, shampoos, body lotions, soaps, liquid (...)
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has issued its first recommendation for harmful chemicals that should undergo Europe’s new strict ‘authorisation’ process. EU member states have adopted an opinion supporting the recommendation.
The ECHA recommends that seven substances of very high concern should be subject to use and market access only with explicit authorisation under the EU’s REACH law. This decision, backed by member states, was further supported by environment and health public (...)
Government delegates to the United Nations’ Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have added nine new chemicals to its list of substances that governments must control. Environmental NGOs have welcomed the move but are disappointed by the inadequacy and inconsistency of control measures approved for three the listed chemicals.
Delegates at the meeting, held in Geneva in May, discussed the inclusion of nine new chemicals in Stockholm’s blacklist. This move would (...)
The report, commissioned by HEAL’s partner organization CHEM Trust is entitled Male Reproductive Health Disorders and the Potential Role of Exposure to Environmental Chemicals . It is written by one of the world’s leading experts in reproductive biology, Professor Richard Sharpe of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Edinburgh, UK. Scientists now think that birth defects of boy’s genitals, low sperm counts and testicular cancer, collectively called Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome (TDS), (...)
New environmental medicine education resources were released in May by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ATSDR is a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. In May they launched their Environmental Health and Medicine Education training portal.
The new portal provides updated and redesigned educational materials for health (...)
The US Environmental Protection Agency have come under fire from leading NGOs for its outdated testing program of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. It is feared that the numerous holes in the current programme fail to detect many serious effects on human development. The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to start testing 67 pesticide ingredients for their possible endocrine disruption effects. However, the US based not for profit, scientific organisation, the Endocrine Disruption (...)
The European Institutions must push for international action to reduce obsolete pesticides and their risks to human health and the environment, according to a new report published by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS). Obsolete pesticides are excess pesticides that can no longer be used either because they have deteriorated during storage or because their use has since been banned. These pose significant risks to human health and the environment, particularly in countries (...)
The biggest annual conference on European environment policy is just around the corner, this year it will focus on the multi-faceted challenges of climate change. The European Commission’s Green Week will be held on the 23rd-26th of June in Brussels.
With the global climate summit in December looming, this year’s Green Week - named Climate change: act and adapt - will focus on the challenges of reaching a new global deal to control climate change. Over the course of the three days, (...)
A new report offering recommendations to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable countries and communities was released last month by the international Commission on Climate Change and Development. The report, Closing the Gaps, was presented at the United Nations on the 14th May.
The work of the Commission has focused on adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction. Closing the Gaps, their final report was presented to Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon in (...)
The environmental movement is typically seen as the younger person’s domain, with the views and concerns of older people often being ignored. However, according to UK NGO, age should not be a barrier to being green.
The Greener and Wiser Taskforce’s manifesto, launched in the UK on the 11th May, sheds light on the impressive potential of older people to help build more sustainable communities.
The Taskforce, made up of 10 older people from around the UK, has produced their manifesto with (...)
On Saturday May 30 a new french youth group, Appel de la Jeunesse (The Call of Youth) held a round table debate at the European College of Ostéopathy in Paris. The Appel de la Jeunesse issued the following statement, setting the scene for the debate:
We, the youth, do not accept: that around us our parents, our close relations and even our peers, are touched by cancer; that more and more young people experience difficulty in conceiving a child; that as new parents, our children ([...>art988])
The health effects of electromagnetic fields are of concern among a growing number of scientists, medical doctors and citizens worldwide. Since the mid 1990s, humankind is becoming more reliant and more exposed to manmade electro magnetic fields (EMF) from electric power and wireless communications sources as part of daily life. A workshop entitled "International Non-Ionizing Radiation and Health Workshop", was held on Monday 18th May and Tuesday 19th May 2009 in Brazil. Sponsored by the (...)
Plans to address the risks posed by nanotechnology agreed at recent UN meeting are insufficient and vague, according to NGOs. Countries, industries and non-governmental organisations met in Geneva this May to further develop a policy framework for sound management of chemicals, under the banner of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM). Nanotechnology was one of main emerging issues discussed at the meeting. Delegates agreed to focus future work to reduce (...)
Whilst living in cities, near airports or road and rail links, might prove useful for the commute, the noise levels can sometimes be too much to bear.
A growing body of research reveals, transport noise can cause sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease, elevated hormone levels, psychological problems and even premature death; studies on children have identified cognitive impairment, worsened behaviour and diminished quality of life. The European Commission acknowledges that traffic (...)
"GM foods pose a serious health risk”, states a new report from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM). The position paper, released on the 19th May, calls for physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid genetically modified foods (GM) and provide educational materials concerning health risks.
The AAEM calls for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labelling. Citing many animal studies that indicate serious (...)
Last updated on 30 June 2011