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HEAL Newsflash - December 2012

HEAL’s reaction to proposal for 7th EU Environment Action Programme (7th EAP)

While HEAL welcomes that health concerns feature in the EU Commission proposal to guide EU environmental policy up to 2020, actions put forward to reduce exposure to air and noise pollution or hazardous chemicals are too superficial to bring down rates of chronic disease from environmental pollution and the associated economic health costs. Read more…

Health & Environment Film Prize at International Environmental Film Festival

As part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, HEAL will be awarding a prize for the best environment & health film at the International Environmental Film Festival (Fife) in Paris from 19-26 February 2013. Selected documentaries will focus on how environmental issues impacts human health. Read more …

Quieter cars and lorries essential for improved health and more economically viable

On 18 December 2012, members of the European Parliament’s Environment and Public Health committee will vote on new EU standards for vehicle noise. Traffic noise is the second biggest threat to health after air pollution, so this first update on noise standards is a not-to-be missed opportunity for public health protection. It also makes a lot of economic sense, since the benefits outweigh the costs by a factor of 30 to 1. Read more...

Reforming the European Food Safety Agency

HEAL joined other public interest organisations in handing over a statement to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) with recommendations on how to improve the independence, transparency and use of non-industry funded experts and science in its work. Read more …

European Parliament puts Endocrine Disruptors on the agenda

The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety will soon vote on a report on the Protection of Public Health from Endocrine Disruptors (EDCs). HEAL urges further strengthening of the report in order to lay the basis for an ambitious new EU Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) strategy, for high quality criteria to identify EDCs and for a sound review of EDCs treatment in REACH authorisation. Read more...

Revising the EU Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors: nearing a decisive moment

Read a commentary from HEAL in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health this month highlighting why the time is right for urgent action and a new strategy on EDCs. Learn more …

EU bio-monitoring highlights exposure to harmful chemicals in mothers and children

Analysis of 4,000 urine and hair samples in 17 European countries collected under the first EU-wide human biomonitoring project COPHES/DEMOCOPHES suggests that all mothers and children have chemicals in their bodies that should not be there. The findings reveal that the human body is contaminated with small levels of mercury, cadmium, cotinine and five phthalates (EDCs used in plastics). HEAL has been a partner in the COPHES project to highlight especially the policy implications. Learn more …

Delegates decision prolongs toxic pollution

Government delegates at the committee meeting on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) have failed again to take urgent action on this group of harmful toxic chemicals. They have postponed the decision for another three years at least, thus continuing the global contamination of the environment, wildlife and humans with these harmful chemicals. Read more …

International workshop on low dose effects

Risk assessors, toxicologists, endocrinologists, and epidemiologists met on 11-13 September in Berlin for an international workshop on low dose effects. HEAL and other NGOs joined the workshop discussions on whether the current data on low dose effects and non-monotonic dose response curves for endocrine active substances are sufficient to re-examine the ways in which chemicals are tested for endocrine disrupting properties and how risk to human health is managed. Click here for more information on the conference and speaker presentations.

Breast cancer: Occupational exposure research highlights opportunities for prevention

Research findings from Canada lend weight to hypotheses that reducing exposure to chemicals could reduce breast cancer rates in women. The results indicated that women who worked for a longer period of time in jobs classified as highly exposed to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors had a higher risk of breast cancer. Read more …

Building a pesticide free future – How can you get involved in the Pesticide Action Week?

For several years HEAL has been a supporting partner of the Pesticide Action Week which takes place annually across the globe. From 20 – 30 March 2013, the 8th edition will have a special focus on endocrine disrupting pesticides, and will aim at showcasing the growing alternatives to pesticides use through discussions, workshops, information stands, exhibitions etc. In 2012, 750 events took place in France and in 21 countries. Read more about the event or register your event here.

EU Commission announces review of pesticide chlorpyrifos

Health and environment groups welcome the EU Commission’s announcement to review the approval of the pesticide chlorpyrifos after years of accumulated evidence of suggesting harmful effects to health. HEAL and its member, Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) urge the EU Health Commissioner to opt for a full ban in order to better protect children. Read more.

Global health community united in call for climate action

At the UN climate talks COP18 in Doha, Qatar last week, HEAL with other health organisations from around the world released a statement on the health benefits of taking action on climate change. The Doha Declaration on Climate, Health and Well-being, signed by more than 50 organisations and almost 2000 individuals calls on governments to recognise that a carbon intensive economy and changing climate contributes to major health problems and increased mortality rates. Read more …

Agreement on renewal of the Kyoto Protocol at UN climate talks?

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the UN climate conference, COP 18 in Doha, Qatar finally produced an agreement to renew the Kyoto Protocol for a further seven years from January 2013, as well as a new 2015 climate treaty. Health aspects continued to feature in the discussions. Read more …

European Environment Agency (EEA) publishes alarming assessment of Europe’s vulnerability to climate change

EEA report findings showcase how climate change is already contributing to disease and premature death in Europe. HEAL believes that this report – which also projects substantial costs to health for the future – should bring a greater sense of urgency to EU climate policy in terms of increasing the EU level of ambition. Read more …

Health impacts of coal power plants in the German-Polish region Lusatia

HEAL issued a briefing on the health impacts of coal power plants in the Polish-German border region at an event hosted by the regional chapter of Marburger Bund, a medical doctors association with over 110,000 members in Germany. Read more …

Air Quality in the spotlight in 2013

2013 as the EU Year of Air will include a series of expert meetings, consultations and EU research results to assess the significant public health problems and costs linked to air pollution, and contribute to policy revisions expected later in the year. HEAL will participate in the high-level kick-off event on 8 January 2013, organised by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), followed by an air quality & health conference organised by the EU Commission, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Health Effects Institute at the end of the month. Read more...

Exposure to traffic air pollution in early years damages lung function in children

A new study of the leading Karolinska Institute of Environmental Medicine in Sweden highlights that exposure to ambient air pollution from traffic during infancy is associated with lung function deficits in children up to eight years of age. Children sensitised to common allergens are particularly vulnerable. Read more …

Support EU and global phase-outs of mercury use in dentistry

High quality and cost-effective alternatives to dental amalgam are readily available. HEAL and other organisations believe that dental amalgam use should be phased out and time-tables for such action should be supported at both the EU and global levels. A joint letter was sent to EU member state representatives and dental experts, ahead of a recent EU Commission meeting on dental amalgam. Read the joint letter here...

Members’ news



  • 13 December 2012 - Partnership Call: Methods for Screening and Assessing Chemicals (CHE) - Register here
  • 31 December 2012 – Jaffa, Israel: From science to policy - More information here
  • 8 January 2013 – Brussels, Belgium: EEB conference on “Blowing the winds of change into European air policy” - More information here
  • 15 March 2013 – Sheffield, United Kingdom: Carcinogens in the Workplace - More information here
  • 15-16 March 2013 - São Paulo, Brazil: Third International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society - More information here
  • 20-30 March 2013 – Global event: Pesticide Action Week - More information here

Take action

Endorse the Doha Declaration on Climate, Health and Well-being: Health must be central to climate action

Health and medical organisations from around the world signed a declaration for the Doha climate negotiations on how to better protect and promote our health. Get involved by signing on as an individual or as an organisation concerned about climate change and health. Sign the Declaration here!

Clean transport, urban transport in the EU: how do we get there?

Express your opinion on how best to contribute with targeted EU-level action to high-quality and sustainable urban transport and mobility for all users in the 27 EU Member States. The deadline for submissions of the public consultation is set for 17 December 2012. Act now!

Bringing Rio home

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20 which took place in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro may be over but the work for a sustainable future goes on. The success of Rio+20 depends on the continuing engagement of citizens organisations and other stakeholders to push for the implementation of the political decisions taken at the historic UN Conference. Submit your ideas by filling in the public consultation. The deadline is 15 January 2013. Act now!

Media coverage

A letter to the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny urging him to promote green jobs in the EU ahead of the Irish 6 month presidency of the EU starting on 1 January 2013 was mentioned in the Irish Times on 10 December 2012. Genon Jensen HEAL’s Executive Director and current Green 10 chair was quoted, expressing concern about Ireland’s agenda, which makes no reference to a green economy, and instead focuses on jobs and growth alone. The Green 10 is a group of leading environmental NGOs active at EU level. Read the full article here.

A commentary from HEAL in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health last month says the forthcoming criteria for identifying and assessing EDCs needs to capture those suspected of harmful impacts as a basis for EU legislation to phase them out.

Results of the EU biomonitoring pilot project prompted articles in ENDS Europe Daily, Euractiv and Chemical Watch, and a letter from Irish Doctors Medical Association (a HEAL member) in the Irish Medical News.

Originally posted on 12 December 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 »


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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