Environmental effect on diseases could be underestimated
The current way of analysing connections between environment and health attributes only 2-5% of European mortality and morbidity to environmental factors. However, this so-called "burden of disease" approach is likely to be flawed, according to EEA executive director Professor Jacqueline McGlade who spoke today at the 2005 conference of the UK Health Protection Agency at Warwick University.
In her speech, Jacqueline McGlade noted that multi-causality and complexity were often neglected in research looking at connections between environment and health. This is due in part to the sheer complexity of these realities. 'Research however needed to address these complexities if it was to be realistic,' said. Jacqueline McGlade. She went on to add that the EEA planned to do further work on multi-causality and the burden of disease over the next two years in partnership with the JRC.
In her presentation, she also said that the EEA, as a follow-up study to its widely read and quoted report on the precautionary principle, would address the issues of how to calculate the cost and the benefits of action or inaction when faced with an environmental problem. The new report on the precautionary principle due out in 2007 will comprise 16 case studies.
The case studies will cover issues, such as lead in petrol and climate change, and will address in particular how science is generated, financed, communicated, used and sometimes misused. It will also look at what lessons can be drawn from overreacting to weak and sometimes mistaken signals.
Link to Professor Jacqueline McGlade's speech: http://org.eea.eu.int/documents/speeches/12-09-2005
Link to Precautionary Principle report: http://reports.eea.eu.int/environmental_issue_report_2001_22/en
The main themes of the UK Health Protection Agency conference, which runs from 12 to 14 September, are health inequalities, and patient and public safety. The conference brings together over 900 health and scientific professionals and forms part of the UK Presidency of the EU 2005 health programme. It showcases the latest scientific research and developments on a wide range of core issues within health protection. http://www.hpaconference.org.uk/
The UK Health Protection Agency is an independent body with responsibility for protecting the health and well-being of the population. It provides advice for government, health professionals and the public in the UK. http://www.hpa.org.uk/