Environment and health

Safeguarding citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health is a priority at EU level

Environmental quality across Europe has been steadily improving over recent decades. Nonetheless, environmental health hazards continue to affect European citizens. Air pollution and noise cause diseases and shorten lives. Heatwaves across Europe in recent years have resulted in thousands of fatalities, and cold spells bring on poor health and excess deaths. The burden of environmental disease is unequally distributed across European society.

The NOISE Observation & Information Service for Europe

Noise pollution is a major environmental concern in Europe. Explore NOISE maps to see environmental noise from roads, railways, airports, industry and in cities where you live.

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See also noise fact sheets

European countries are facing increasing threats from climate change, including extreme weather events and infectious diseases. A new briefing by the Lancet Countdown and the European Environment Agency (EEA), published today on the European Climate and Health Observatory, draws attention to health impacts of climate change in the European Union (EU) and suggests key actions to address them.

The recent European Union chemicals strategy for sustainability aims to ensure that chemicals make a positive contribution to society without harming the environment and people’s health. A European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, published today, describes key approaches to make chemicals and products safe and sustainable by design, before they enter the market.

More than 100 schools from 8 European countries participated in the citizen science CleanAir@School inititative, organised by the European European Agency (EEA) and the European Network of the Heads of Environmental Protection Agencies. The results of the initiative, published today, describe how schoolchildren measured pollution levels, learned about air quality and promoted actions for cleaner air.

Published: 04 Feb 2021

The EU chemicals strategy for sustainability aims to ensure that chemicals are ‘produced and used in a way that maximises their contribution to society … while avoiding harm to the planet and to current and future generations’ (EC, 2020). Building sustainability dimensions into products’ design phase can support the delivery of these objectives. Key features of sustainable products include chemical safety, recyclability and a low environmental impact. This briefing describes approaches that are safe and sustainable by design and identifies enabling conditions, which support their uptake, and the related challenges and opportunities.

Published: 16 Dec 2020

This briefing assesses the health risks due to exposure to environmental noise in Europe using three indicators to measure, monitor and communicate the impacts of noise pollution on health: (1) exposure to noise above recommended levels established by the World Health Organization; (2) number of people suffering health effects from exposure to noise; (3) burden of disease from noise. The indicators are derived from data submitted to the EEA under the EU Environmental Noise Directive and will be used to inform the development of future targets to reduce the health impacts of noise.

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