A safe, healthy environment is an essential factor in quality of life. People in the European Union have never lived so long and life expectancy is still increasing. However, there is still a significant level of preventable disease and mortality before the age of 65 years. Physical risks are often associated with accidents, certain types of cancer, infections, respiratory illnesses and environmental factors.
The EU is striving to secure the physical wellbeing of its citizens by stepping up its activities at different levels. Important areas to focus on that have been identified include limiting the exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields and substances such as chemical or biological compounds that are potentially damaging to health. Scientific committees have been set up to carry out risk assessments and highlight relevant new findings. They are in charge of assisting the Community in matters relating to the examination of substances whose use may have harmful consequences for human health and the environment.
Major focuses of EU activity in this field are: radiation, noise, electromagnetic fields, environmental pollution, reducing accidents and injuries, improvements to product safety.
Setting standards and taking measures will help ensure a safe environment for all. However, this cannot be achieved without a common approach: either through legislation (where appropriate) or by coordinating national measures. The Community can also contribute by helping to study trends through appropriate environmental and health information systems, and by monitoring accidents and injuries.