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Although much progress has been made in improving the quality of air, water and soil, the situation remains far from satisfactory from a health point of view. The EU therefore strives towards closer cooperation between the health, environment and research areas.

The European Commission adopted in 2003 an EU Strategy on Environment and Health , with the overall aim to reduce diseases caused by environmental factors in Europe. This was followed up by the European Environment and Health Action Plan 2004-2010 which proposes an Integrated Information System on Environment and Health as well as an coordinated approach to Human Biomonitoring between Member States to render the assessment of the environmental impact on human health more efficient.

Today, there is evidence that factors such as particulate matter in the air, noise and ground-level ozone damage the health of thousands of people every year. Environmental pollutants, including pesticides, endocrine disruptors, dioxins and PCBs persist in the environment, accumulating over time and we do not know enough about their long-term effect on our health.

A range of specific policy actions are being taken to address the issues, and many acute environment and health related problems have been solved. However, there are areas which require more investigation, in particular with respect to the health implication of chronic exposures, as reported by organisations such as the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and a number of national organisations. The effect of the environment on health is a major concern of the European public: in a recent survey, some 89% are worried about the potential impact of the environment on their health. Furthermore, new technologies, changing lifestyles, work and life patterns, present new and sometimes unexpected impacts on the environment and its influence on health.

The Action Plan’s aim is to generate the information based needed to analyse all the potential impacts; to asses whether current action is sufficent; and to identify areas where new action is needed.