New developments in children's environmental health in Europe

Giorgio Tamburlini
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2006, 1076: 691-702
Important developments have taken place in Europe regarding children's environmental health (CEH) over the last few years. In 1999 the Third Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health identified CEH as a priority area and started a process of scientific review and policy development that culminated at the Fourth Ministerial Conference held in Budapest in June 2004 with the adoption of the Children's Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE). The rationale of the CEHAPE is based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence on CEH and on a study that quantified for the first time the burden of disease related to the main environmental exposures of children and adolescents in Europe. The Action Plan suggests actions and policies to achieve the four main priority goals: clean air, safe water, chemical and physical agents, and injuries. Over the same period, the European Commission (EC) has strengthened its focus on environment and health issues, has supported research on CEH, and has developed a proposal for a new EU regulatory framework for chemicals that has clear implications for children and for the reproductive period. The proposed new system, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals), currently under examination by the European Parliament, aims at reducing risks to human health and improvement of environmental quality through the better and earlier identification of the properties of chemical substances. The EC also adopted policies and action plans that are very relevant to children, such as the EU European Environment and Health Strategy, referred to as the SCALE initiative (Science, Children, Awareness, Legislation, Evaluation), and the 2004-2010 Environment and Health Action Plan.

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