Healthy environments


Public health is affected by a whole range of environmental factors:

  • airborne pollutants – cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases, allergies, poisoning and cancer.
  • unsafe environments – can be responsible for accidents, injuries and reluctance to be physically active
  • other factors - chemicals, food contamination and allergies, soil pollution, housing quality, planning decisions, noise, water, sanitation, etc.

The EU works closely with national governments and experts to promote healthy environments and devise responses to health threats, including climate change .

Health and environment

Environmental factors account for a significant proportion of disease in industrialised countries. Respiratory diseases and cancers are a particular concern, with children at greater risk than adults.

The Commission takes an integrated approach to this issue, involving all relevant stakeholders in policymaking, including:

  • EU environment and health strategy, with a particular focus on children
  • EU environment and health action plan, to implement EU strategy.
  • EU environment and health consultative group  to involve relevant stakeholders.

The Commission also works closely with WHO Europe .

Accidents and injuries

With 235 000 fatalities every year, accidental injury is the 4th most common cause of death in the EU.

This includes things like traffic and workplace accidents, poisonings, drowning and falls.

The Commission seeks to tackle the causes where it can – by acting to improve e.g. housing, urban/rural planning and physical activity.

See also Product safety

Electromagnetic fields

The rapid development of mobile phones and other electronic appliances since the 1990s has substantially increased our daily exposure to electromagnetic fields. This has raised concerns about their possible adverse health effects.

EU action on electromagnetic fields  includes urging governments to assess the exposure situation and take appropriate follow-up action when safe limits are exceeded.