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Methods for assessing health-related costs of environmental stressors


Policy-makers face challenges when devising pollution mitigation measures and having to assess the health costs emerging from life-long exposures to environmental stressors or the benefits from clean environments. Deaths and disabilities resulting from pollution carry a quantifiable economic cost to society, but there are significant uncertainties in the cost estimates methodologies. There is also paucity of data to evaluate the economic benefits of clean environments.

Impact Pathway Analysis[[]] and Health Impact Assessment (HIA)[[Health Impact Assessment (HIA) has been defined by WHO European Centre for Health Policy as a combination of procedures or methods by which a policy, programme or project may be judged as to the effects it may have on the health of a population.]] are methodologies, which can be useful in linking scientific knowledge with environmental economics for informing policy action in diverse sectors such as transport, energy, chemicals, occupational health etc.

Proposed research activities should mainly aim to improve the calculation of the socio-economic costs (and/or benefits) of health impacts during the life-course associated to environmental stressors, or combinations of these, advance methodological approaches and foster their acceptance as common good practice.

Proposals should consider all of the following activities:

  • Systematic review and exploitation of latest evidence of exposure-response functions and causation resulting from published medical and scientific research accumulated data from the past 10-20 years, including results published based on EU-funded research projects;
  • Identification of data gaps as regards environment and health risk factors and health-related tangible and intangible costs and recommendations on priorities for new data collections;
  • Advancement of methodological rigor and consistency in accounting for morbidity and mortality, disabilities, linking valuation of statistical life and/or life-years with quality adjustments within a unified framework, based on the most recent data available and adapted to the needs and circumstances in Europe;
  • Application of experimental approaches addressing the potential link of quality of life and the burden of disease indicators with more integrative impact indicators (e.g. reflecting subjective well-being, health, work-life balance, education, housing, etc.) and identification of how national contexts can impact on health-related costs of the same environmental and occupational exposure;
  • Enhancement of the understanding of the role of discounting and other methods for weighing present and future costs and benefits;
  • Development of innovative tools, methods and models, and associated guidelines for health impact assessments and related cost-benefit analysis;
  • Consultation of experts and stakeholders on tools, models, methods and assessments developed towards a shared agreement of these;
  • Development of case studies involving public authorities comparing the costs of action and non-action in at least three EU or associated countries;
  • Delivery of FAIR[[ FAIR data are data, which meet principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability.]] data and a user-friendly access to an open knowledge base including results, methodologies and data appropriate for use in public policies and budget allocations.

Projects could consider the involvement of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in the field of health impacts of environmental stressors.

All projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities, as appropriate. These networking and joint activities could, for example, involve the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. This could also involve networking and joint activities with projects funded under other clusters and pillars of Horizon Europe, or other EU programmes, as appropriate. Therefore, proposals are expected to include a budget for the attendance to regular joint meetings and may consider to cover the costs of any other potential joint activities without the prerequisite to detail concrete joint activities at this stage. The details of these joint activities will be defined during the grant agreement preparation phase. In this regard, the Commission may take on the role of facilitator for networking and exchanges, including with relevant stakeholders, if appropriate.

Whenever appropriate, the use of environmental data and products coming from the Copernicus[[]] programme, specifically the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), is encouraged.