Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
A new commentary published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology shows how three global health threats – chemical pollution (including endocrine disrupting chemicals), loss of biodiversity and climate change – are more strongly interlinked than previously thought by their common origins in fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or gas, including that derived from fracking .
Author Professor Barbara Demeneix, biologist and endocrinologist at the Muséum National d’Histoire in Paris, argues policymakers and the general public need to better appreciate the links of each of these treats to human health, all intertwined by their origin. She notes that not only can these three threats be averted, but also by reducing our dependence on fossil fuel usage overall we can simultaneously mitigate and eventually reverse the current climate crisis, reduce pollution and improve our own health and that of the environment.
The commentary comes at a time during which the current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a reduced oil demand. The author argues that the oil and gas industry could attempt to restore profitability by increasing production of plastics and fertilizers, which are made from petrochemicals.
Génon K. Jensen, Executive Director at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: “Professor Demeneix shows just how outdated and harmful the continued use of fossil fuel-based energy and products is – we need a decisive phase-out for our health and planetary health. This gives governments and institutions yet another good reason to set Europe on a path to a healthy, green and just recovery, along the principles of the EU Green Deal.”