Support of Current EC Policies

In June 2004 the Commission launched an Environment and Health Action Plan covering the
period of 2004-2010. This is the continuation of the Commission’s European Environment and
Health Strategy launched in June 2003, which served as the Commission’s contribution to the
Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health organised by the WHO in Budapest in
June 2004. The Action plan was prepared based on extensive consultations with experts and
stakeholders from the environment, health and research field across the enlarged Europe and
builds on an assessment of the current baseline knowledge in various areas including:

(1) Integrated monitoring of dioxins & PCBs, heavy metals, endocrine disrupters; (2) Childhood
cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, respiratory health; (3) Human biomonitoring,
environment and health indicators, research needs;

It was stated that this can be achieved by:

1 - Improving the information chain by developing integrated environment and health
information to understand the links between sources of pollutants and health effects:
Action 4: Enhance coordination and joint activities on environment and health

2 – Fill the knowledge gaps by strengthening research on environment and health and identifying
emerging issues

Action 5: Integrate and strengthen European environment and health research

Action 8: Ensure that potential hazards on environment and health are identified and addressed

3 – Response: Review policies and improve communication by developing Awareness Raising,
Risk Communication, Training & Education

Action 10 : Promote training of professionals and improve organisational capacity in environment
and health

During this initial period the Action Plan focused particularly on gaining a better understanding of
the links between environmental factors and respiratory diseases, neuro-developmental
disorders, cancer and endocrine disrupting effects. For these multi-causal diseases and conditions,
there are indications and some initial evidence that environmental factors can play a role in their
development and aggravation. To characterise the environmental contribution more precisely and
to focus on the most important diseases and conditions within the disease groups more
information is needed. The Action Plan set up targeted research actions to improve and refine
knowledge of the relevant causal links, and at the same time, health monitoring will be improved
to obtain a better picture of disease occurrence across the Community.

The concerns of children are integrated throughout the Action Plan. A number of major child
health issues have been covered in the monitoring, as well as exposure to the environmental
stressors to which children are particularly sensitive. Research on susceptibility is particularly
important, so that policy responses can be adjusted to the needs of children in those cases where
they are particularly vulnerable. The proposals in the Action Plan on indoor air pollution are a case
in point, as the scientific evidence shows that the health impacts of, for instance, Environmental
Tobacco Smoke (ETS) are particularly evident for children.

The Commission communication in June 2003 highlighted the regional disparities that exist
throughout Europe in relation to environmental health problems. For example, the prevalence of
waterborne diseases and exposure to outdoor pollution is higher in a number of the new Member
States while the prevalence of asthma is higher in other Member States. Much has been and is
already being, undertaken to reduce these disparities and there has already been a notable
reduction in the number of deaths and illnesses from respiratory diseases as a result of efforts to
reduce air pollution. The Action Plan also seeks to improve information and knowledge on the
disparities that exist between regions and countries in the enlarged Union, taking into account the
results of ongoing EU funded projects on emissions in the new Member States. Because of the
differences between different member states, an European wide approach is needed with
coverage across Europe as far as possible.

ENRIECO has attempted to address many items from the action plan above, with a major strength that it has conducted its assessment in many different European countries.