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Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Environment and health

Environment and health

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A clean environment is essential for human health and well-being. However, the interactions between the environment and human health are highly complex and difficult to assess. This makes the use of the precautionary principle particularly useful. The best-known health impacts are related to ambient air pollution, poor water quality and insufficient sanitation. More

Key facts and messages
Environment, health and quality of life — Water and air pollution have declined but not enough to achieve good ecological quality in all water bodies or to ensure good air quality in all urban areas. Widespread exposure to multiple pollutants... more
Europe’s freshwaters contain a number of pollutants including nutrients, metals, pesticides, pathogenic micro-organisms, industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals. These can have adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems, degrading habitats and... more
Air pollution damages human health and the environment. Considerable progress has been made in Europe to reduce emissions and exposure to different air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and lead (Pb). However, despite reductions, certain... more
European air pollutant concentrations still frequently exceed limit values set by the EU Air Quality Directives. Many Member States have either not complied, or will not comply by the required target dates, with legally-binding air quality limits... more
As European emissions decrease, there is increasing recognition of the importance of inter-continental transport of air pollutants and its contribution to poor air quality in Europe. This contribution is particularly large for ozone, persistent... more
Despite substantial reductions in some urban air pollutants, data for the period 1997 to 2008 show that for any given year up to 40 to 60 % of urban citizens can be exposed to concentrations of either particulate matter or ozone above the EU... more
11 countries exceeded the 2010 'ceilings' for the four important air pollutants regulated under the LRTAP Protocol: NOx, NMVOC, SOx and NH. These pollutants can lead to breathing problems, acid rain and eutrophication. more
Every 10% increase in green space is associated with a reduction in diseases equivalent to an increase of five years of life expectancy. more
Over one year a mature tree will take up about 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in exchange release oxygen. Each year, 1.3 million trees are estimated to remove more than 2500 tonnes of pollutants from the air. more
Modelling studies for urban temperatures over the next 70 years project that in urban areas where the green cover is reduced by 10 %, urban temperatures could increase by 8.2 °C above current levels. more
In 2008, ten of 12 waterborne disease outbreaks reported in the EU were linked to the contamination of private wells. more
Exposure to ground-level ozone concentrations above critical health levels is associated with more than 20 000 premature deaths in the EU-25 annually. more

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
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Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100