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Collaboration with GAHP at EP event on the global health footprint of development

In October the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) collaborated with MEP Michele Rivasi, the World Bank, HEAL and the European Cancer Leagues at a seminar in the EP to raise awareness about the burden of disease from chemicals, waste and toxic pollution.

This lunchtime seminar put a spotlight on global health and explore opportunities to reduce the impacts from chemicals, mining and industry especially in the developing world.

A range of presentations were given by various experts including from the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the WHO, Blacksmith Institute, World Bank and Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.

An important recurring aspect of the discussions regarded the urgent need to clean up contaminated sites globally but especially in the developing world. The environmental burden of disease is much bigger in the developing world although it is certainly not gone elsewhere. About 250,00 sites in the EEA member countries are described as requiring cleaning up according to the WHO.

Richard Fuller of the Blacksmith Institute presented the first ever database of global toxic sites which can be used ‘in country’ and in the international community to understand the extent of the situation of each site. The database shows the number of sites per country, the level of toxicity, the related health impacts that can be observed, who is responsible and who to contact. This database is a vital tool to specifically target toxic sites globally and work towards cleaning them up.

After the presentations, HEAL Deputy Director Anne Stauffer and Emma Woodford from the European Cancer Leagues took part in a question and answers panel-led discussion. Anne highlighted the need and urgency for endocrine disrupting chemicals and toxic chemicals to be removed from our daily lives and the impact that they have on our health and environment.

More information

The Poisoned Poor: Toxic Chemicals Exposures in Low- and Middle-Income Countries was produced by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), which includes the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the EU Commission, UNDP, UNIDO and other agencies and governments.

Among the document’s key findings about the poisoned poor:

  • As many as 200 million people are affected.
  • The amount of disease caused by toxic exposures is similar to that of malaria or outdoor air pollution.
  • The majority of acutely toxic sites are caused by local business, many of them artisanal or small-scale. Surprisingly, international companies are rarely implicated.
  • The impact of these diseases, and the commensurate loss in economic capacity, is enormous.
  • Aside from the obvious health benefits, solving these problems usually promotes, rather than inhibits, economic growth.
  • Interventions to mitigate these toxic exposures while protecting livelihoods have proven to be manageable.

Read more on the Blacksmith Institution blog here

Last updated on 28 November 2013

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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 »


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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