Environment and Health Data in Europe as a Tool for Risk Management: Needs, Uses and Strategies
Accurate, adequate and accessible data are a necessary tool for reducing existing environment and health risks and preventing the introduction of new and uncontrolled risks accompanying industrial development and societal growth. Without such data, environmental management in the WHO European Region will proceed based on risk perception alone and will be unduly sensitive to public pressure for priority setting. The systematic and unified collection of geographically localized environment and health data is a necessary activity which must be developed within the Region, perhaps based on subregional programmes in geographically or socially coherent areas. A concerted effort must be made to catalogue current data holdings and their method of access so that public data are made available to the entire Region for use in environmental and health management of common problems and local and regional priority-setting. Epidemiological studies using geographically linked exposure and health data are the method of choice for hypothesis testing with respect to the effects of past exposures and emissions on human health and predictions of the effect of the current state of the environment on the future state of public health. Studies of unevenness of health outcome will indicate where major research into the causes of existing inequalities in public health status and the presence of “hot spots” of disease or functional impairment is necessary. The unified monitoring of the environment at an appropriate scale is necessary to aid in the development of a regional programme to study the potential relationships between spatial variations in risk factors and in disease rates.
KeywordsRisk Management Health Data Waste Site Probabilistic Risk Assessment Hazardous Waste Site
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