Newsletter April 2009
A monthly update for the health and environment community in Europe
Environment and Health Policy
A recent Environment Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialised countries showed renewed focus on children’s health as a fundamental objective of environmental protection and sustainable development.
The meeting, held in Siracusa, Italy on April 22-24 2009 was attended by Environment Ministers and senior officials from G8 countries and the European Commission, as well as officials from Brazil, People’s Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, (...)
HEAL delegates attended the third high level meeting of the WHO-led environment and health process on 27-29 April in Bonn, Germany. The meeting was the last in a series of meetings in preparation for the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, to be held in Parma, Italy, in 2010.
Over 100 representatives from health and environment ministries across the 53 countries in the WHO European Region met to hammer out the final details of the Ministerial Declaration, and discuss (...)
About us & our members
On 6 May, HEAL member the European Child Safety Alliance with the support of Commissioner Vassiliou, Commissioner Kuneva and MEP Chair of Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee Arlene McCarthy launched the Child Safety Report Cards for 24 Member States in Europe and the Child Safety Report Card 2009 Europe summary for 24 countries. You can view the report cards and press release at www.childsafetyeurope.org. Despite injury reductions and safety improvements achieved by many (...)
EFA holds its 13th Annual Conference on 12 - 14 June 2009. The European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA), a HEAL member, is hosting the annual conference in Rome, on 12-14 June 2009. This is run simultaneously with the WHO Global Alliance against Respiratory Diseases (GARD) Assembly and followed by the first ever Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Patient World Conference – all of which take place in Rome. EFA’s 13th conference, ‘Allergy & (...)
The European Parliament voted to adopt a report that will give patients the possibility to travel throughout Europe in order to receive healthcare. The vote, passed on the 24th April, builds on over ten years of rulings from the European Court of Justice, the Directive is now closer to realisation following adoption of the report by 297 votes for, 120 against and 152 abstention. Founding HEAL member, The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) has broadly supported the proposed Directive (...)
A Russian scientist who has transformed the NGO community in Eastern Europe and beyond, has been honured for her inspiring work. Since the early 1990s, Olga Speranskaya, a physician and director of HEAL member Eco-Accord, has worked tirelessly to establish a strong voice of civil society that identifies and eliminates the Soviet legacy of toxic chemicals in the environment. This month, her remarkable story was celebrated by the receipt of the Goldman Environmental Prize. Speranskaya (...)
HEAL new member organisations, March and April 2009 In March and April 2009, three new organizations were granted provisional membership of HEAL: Health Care Without Harm Europe is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups. Their mission is to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising (...)
In April, Dr Pendo Maro has joined the HEAL team as a Senior Climate and Energy Advisor. This joint post is part of our strategic partnership with Health Care Without Harm Europe around climate change and health, which aims to build on the synergies and expertise of our two networks at this critical junction leading up to the global climate change negotiations in Copenhagen at the end of the year, and beyond. Pendo comes with extensive knowledge in European environmental (...)
A symposium, addressing the issue of substitution of hazardous chemicals, was held in the Dutch capital the Hague in April. The meeting, organised by HEAL member Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) and the Dutch Ministry of the Environment in cooperation with employers union VNO/NCW and the chemical industry, sought to address how to facilitate the replacement of harmful chemicals from everyday products. Within the new European Chemicals Regulation - REACH - a list of chemicals (...)
Mercury and health
April saw EU scientists actively seeking advice on possible alternatives to a pollutant that threatens the health of millions, from humans, animals to ecosystems. The EU’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) is currently undergoing research into the possible substitutes to mercury-containing sphygmomanometers. Under a 2007 directive (Directive 2007/51/EC) the use of mercury in thermometers and other measuring devices intended for public sale was (...)
Professors Ana Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein from Tufts University, Boston presented "The indisputable scientific evidence of the toxicity of bisphenol A" at a press conference and public meeting in Paris on Monday, 27 April 2009. Organised by the Reseau Environment Sante, the aim was to send a clear message to the French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot who recently told the National Assembly that reliable studies show bisphenol A (BPA) to be harmless. Ana Soto, professor of cellular (...)
In April, the Health & Environment Alliance, Women in Europe for a Common Future and the European Environment Bureau responded with an open letter to a recent statement from the French Minister for Health on Bisphenol A (BPA).
The French Minister for Health recently stated that the Canadian ban of BPA was not based on scientific research. In a recent address to French Deputies, Madame Roselyne Bachelot stated that the Canadian decision to ban to the dangerous substance Bisphenol A (BPA) (...)
Every day people unknowingly expose themselves to toxic chemicals. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web. In April, a new film was launched to highlight the problem of POPs that pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.
This new animation, designed by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), of which HEAL is a member, is designed to help the consumer (...)
The pan-European television news channel Euronews broadcast a special feature on the implementation of EU chemicals legislation REACH on 2 May. The Health and Environment Alliance was mentioned by name having contributed ideas and information, and worked closely with Euronews in the realisation of the feature. HEAL’s Policy Advisor Lisette Van Vliet appears at both the beginning and the end of the feature. Spokespeople also include representatives from ChemSec, industry and a Swedish (...)
Now that the weather is warming up, we are all spending more time outside - walking and taking the children to public playgrounds. Unfortunately, many of us are worried about the regular pesticide spraying that takes place in parks, public gardens, schools and even on pavements to stop the weeds growing in the cracks between paving stones (...)
New research reveals that babies conceived in the spring and summer are more likely than others to be born with birth defects. One possible cause is the levels of pesticides in surface water happen to peak at the same time.
The study, published in the US medical journal Acta Pædiatrica links the increasing number of birth defects in children of women whose last menstrual period occurred in April through July to elevated levels of nitrates, atrazine and other pesticides in surface water (...)
Those living near fields where pesticides are sprayed are 75% more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. In a new study from the University of California (UCLA), researchers report that strong evidence points to an association between the neurodegenerative disorder and pesticides.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, typically affecting motor skills and speech. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting more than 1 per 1000 people (...)
A French cohort study on agriculture and cancer (AGRICAN) has been launched to examine possible links between the prevalence of certain cancers within farming communities in France. The study aims to identify different factors responsible for cancer incidence amongst the agricultural community and follows an earlier small-scale study which revealed these potential patterns. According to the AGRICAN team, it is possible that cancer of the brain, prostate, and stomach, as well as leukaemia (...)
There is much grey matter surrounding causes of brain cancer in children, but there is increasing evidence indicating that a culprit may be pre-birth pesticide exposure.
In a new study released by the National Institute of Health Sciences, herbicide use appeared to cause an elevated risk for cancer. The study found that children living in homes where their parents use pesticides are twice as likely to develop brain cancer versus those that live in residences in which no pesticides are (...)
The European Commission has published a plan detailing the impacts of climate change on health and outlining the role of the health sector and the needed adaptation measures. The plan was launched as a Staff Working Document on 1st April at the same time as the EU’s White Paper on Climate Change Adaptation and outlines EU plans for tackling all emergency and health-related problems associated with climate change. The Working Document - "Human, Animal and Plant Health Impacts of Climate (...)
Europe’s transport emissions are showing no sign of decreasing according to the 2008 "Term" report presented by European Environment Agency (EEA) at the European parliament in March. The report – Transport at a crossroads. TERM 2008: indicators tracking transport and environment in the European Union - highlights that greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the EU transport sector rose 26 per cent between 1990 and 2006. Unofficial data for 2006-2008 shows little sign of improvement. Currently (...)
The European Parliament voted for all new houses, offices and shops built in the European Union to produce the same amount of energy they consume. The vote, which was passed on the 23rd April, calls for an overall deadline of 2019 for all new buildings, with all new public buildings given an earlier deadline of 2016.
The vote is in response to the revision of the directive aimed at improving energy performance in buildings. The revision provides an opportunity to strengthen the existing (...)
The end of March saw the first stakeholder meeting of a project seeking to address EU transport emissions. As rising greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) within the EU transport sector seek to jeopardize the EU’s emission reduction targets, a new DG Environment funded project – ‘EU transport GHG: routes to 2050?’ tries to understand why this is happening, and how it can be resolved.
A project managed by AEA and CE Delft, ‘EU transport GHG: routes to 2050?’ will run until March 2010 and aims (...)
In Europe, an estimated 10-50% of the indoor environments where human beings live, work and play are damp. Excessive dampness, moisture and condensation are a threat to health. To help individuals find out more about indoor air quality and its impact on health, HEAL has compiled a directory of organisations providing information and remedial action on damp and mould. Mould produces allergens, which can cause allergic reactions, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances. (...)
New guidelines have been developed to help local authorities manage the effects of wood burning on air quality. The NGO Environmental Protection UK and the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS) have developed guidance for local authorities on biomass and air quality and are now inviting views on the draft guidance document and accompanying tools.
The guidance provides background material on the issues involved, and details procedures for assessing and managing the (...)
In April 2009, 50 doctors issued a united call to leaders in politics and health in the Dutch capital, The Hague. They called for stricter measures to be taken to minimize exposure to electromagnetic fields. The Dutch doctors, ranging from general practitioners, specialists to medical scientists, called for a reduction in the exposure to electro-magnetic fields (EMF) and a more conscious use of electrical and wireless technology. The group reported an increase in recent years of chronic (...)
Nanomaterials: MEPs vote for consumer information
MEPs recently voted for products containing nano-materials to be accompanied by consumer information. With the increasing use of nano-technology, this vote calls for a stringent framework to be put in place to ensure that information be provided on the risks of the release of micro-materials into the environment and their adverse affects on human health. The vote, which runs contrary to the European Commission’s belief that nano-materials are sufficiently covered by existing legislation, (...)
New research released in April examines the exposure measurement and mitigation of nano-materials in the workplace. The report was released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as part of a series of publications which aim to encourage engagement in the safety implications of nano-materials at the same time as research on new applications is being undertaken. "Preliminary Analysis of Exposure Measurement and Exposure Mitigation in Occupational Settings: (...)
The Third International WHO Conference on Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) is being hosted by the Ministry of Environment in Korea in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Family Planning, and organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) jointly with national and international partners.
The conference, which runs from the 7-10 June 2009 in Busan, Korea, will aim to extend recognition of children’s environmental health needs and provide a platform (...)
Last updated on 1 July 2011