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Letter: ENVI vote on draft report Leinen on 7 EAP – strengthen health and environment concerns to members of the ENVI committee

LETTER

Brussels, 27 February 2012

Dear Member of the ENVI Committee,

This Wednesday, you will be voting on the draft report “Review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme – a better environment for a better life” (2011/2194(INI)), rapporteur Jo Leinen. We at the Health and Environment Alliance have several amendments to this report to which we’d like to draw your attention and support.

The Health and Environment Alliance HEAL is a leading public interest alliance addressing how the environment affects human health. We welcome that the draft report addresses the public health dimension of environmental protection and the ongoing policy challenges. We also welcome a number of amendments which significantly strengthen the focus, which we recommend to you in detail below.

Given that health and environment was a priority for the first time under the current 6th EAP, and many important initiatives were thereby launched in the air quality, chemicals or pesticides areas, it is key to keep this focus in the 7EAP.

As the European Environment Agency State of the Environment Report 2010 has highlighted, major differences remain in environmental quality and public health between EU Member States and future EU environmental policies must address this gap.

HEAL is especially concerned about the role that environmental degradation plays in the rise of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases or diabetes. We therefore commend the recent resolution from the European Parliament on chronic diseases in which you called for the environment be considered as a fifth factor in chronic disease prevention.

Your vote this week is an opportunity to show how the 7EAP can tackle environmental factors in ill health and provide significant health benefits to Europe, and can help prevent ill health and reduce health care costs.

Informed by the science on environmental health, we urge you to take the following concerns into account for your vote this Wednesday

Give health & environment challenges more recognition

The challenges and emerging health threats outlined above are not yet adequately reflected in the draft report. The following amendments provide greater focus on health consequences from environmental degradation such as air quality, low environmental quality in urban environments and the burden of disease associated with this pollution.

Support the following amendments:

2, 3, 6, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 29, 63, 66, 122, 125, 175

It is also key that the 7 EAP including the health & environment concerns is sufficiently integrated into other EU strategies and programmes such as the Multiannual Financial Framework and CAP to ensure adequate financial resources for future health and environment activities and research.

Support the following amendments:

15, 23

Support reduction of people’s exposure to endocrine disrupting and other harmful chemicals

Endocrine disruptors are a major environmental health threat and there is a growing body of science showing the many harmful human health effects that are linked to EDC exposure, such as hormone-related cancers (breast, testicular, prostate), obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, reproductive health problems and disrupted human brain development.

Just last week, the European Commission published a major report on the science on endocrine disrupting chemicals EDCs by a leading scientists on the issue, Professor Andreas Kortenkamp and his team. (see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/endocrine/documents/4_SOTA%20EDC%20Final%20Report%20V3%206%20Feb%2012.pdf)

This report shows the increasing trends of many endocrine-related disorders in humans, and the current potential underestimation of EDC impacts. It also shows the inability of current EU legislation to properly cope with identifying and controlling EDCs, due to limits in the testing and information requirements.

With your vote, you can underline the urgency of addressing population-wide exposures to EDCs and other harmful chemicals on a daily basis.

Support the following amendments:

112, 113, 116, 117, 119, 128

Help ensure the tracking of pollutants in Europeans

Human Biomonitoring is an indispensable tool to trace peoples’ exposure to pollutants, especially for vulnerable groups such as children. Two EU funded projects, COPHES and DEMOCOPHES, are currently developing a framework of EU level biomonitoring and harmonising a biomonitoring exercise among many EU Member States. But to ensure that the lessons learned and skills gained are kept and built upon, the 7 EAP should take over from the EU Action Plan on Environment and Health, which closed in 2010, and become the main policy framework for anchoring future European-level human biomonitoring.

Support the following amendment:

121

Protect children as a vulnerable group

In March 2010, all EU Environment and Health Ministers pledged their support for the WHO European Region Parma Declaration and Commitment to Act (See: http://www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-...)

With this process, the 53 member countries of the WHO region have set time-bound targets to prevent effects on children’s health from environmental degradation.

Scientific evidence is mounting on the effects of exposure to pollutants being most critical when they take place in the womb or in early life. This exposure not only negatively impacts children’s growth and development during the pregnancy or shortly after birth, but it can also have effects later in life, for example increasing the risk for cancer or diabetes.

With a view to preventing chronic diseases and ensuring the health and well-being of future generations, and to save on healthcare budgets, the 7 EAP should include a specific strategy to protect children’s health.

Support the following amendments:

120, 124, 127

Put health concerns at the heart of EU climate change policy

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for public health for the 21st century, and the health community is increasingly involved in climate change discussions and decisions.

Public health concerns from a changing climate include health effects from temperature changes, extreme weather events, prolonged allergy seasons etc. But many studies also show the benefits to public health from the move to a low-carbon economy, for example as a result of cleaner air or increased walking+cycling.

Within the EU’s climate and energy policy, health concerns do not yet play the role they deserve. The 7 EAP should strengthen and expand the cost benefit assessments to include health costs such as those related to ill health (morbidity) and the health co-benefits of various policy measures in EU climate discussions to reduce GHGs and improve energy choices.

Support the following amendments:

46, 48

In conclusion, the 7 EAP will be the framework and strategic outline for EU environmental policy for the next years, and we hope that you will strengthen environment and health considerations within it.

Best regards,

Genon K. Jensen

Executive Director

Health and Environment Alliance

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) 28 Boulevard Charlemagne, B1000 Brussels, Belgium phone:+32 2 234 3640 | fax: +32 2 234 3649 | e-mail: info@env-health.org | www.env-health.org

Last updated on 19 March 2012

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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Phone: +32 2 234 3640
Fax: +32 2 234 3649
E-mail: info@env-health.org
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