Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Environment and health

Funded under: FP6-JRC


Public concerns, evidence from research and increasing scientific knowledge are all driving widespread discussions on environment and health problems. The issue of environment and health is characterised by multi-causality with different strengths of association. This means that the links between exposures and their health consequences depend on the environmental pollutants and diseases being considered, but are also influenced by factors such as genetic constitution, age, nutrition and lifestyle, and socioeconomic factors such as poverty and level of education.
Air pollution indoors and outdoors are the environmental factors with the greatest impact on health in Europe and are responsible for the largest burden of environment-related disease. Recent estimates indicate that 20 million Europeans suffer from respiratory problems every day. Particulate matter and especially small particles with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) are associated with increased mortality, especially from cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary diseases.
Asthma is increasing all over Europe, although there is a significant variation between EU-25 countries. The societal cost of asthma has been estimated at EUR 3 billion/year. Clearly, asthmatic persons, and particularly asthmatic children, are sensitive to air quality and several studies show a strong association between exposure to air pollution and the aggravation of asthma. To what extent air pollution initiates asthma is unclear.
Cancer in European children younger than 15 years of age is in general terms rare but remains one of the most common causes of death in children in industrialised countries. Radon exposure is the bestdocumented environment-related cause of cancer but is localised in geographical areas where radon precursors (uranium) occur naturally in the ground.

Additional information

Authors: No author stated, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2005. 35 pp Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
ISBN: ISBN: 92-9167-781-7
Record Number: 200718894 / Last updated on: 2007-03-16
Original language: en
Available languages: en