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Risk assessment in support of EU policies (RASEP): Methodology and refinement


Specific Objectives:

Survey of the national approaches to the assessment of health risks of environmental and combined environmental/lifestyle origin, emphasising common ground and best practice. After consultation a limited number of specific risks will be chosen for detailed examination to maintain focus. A Workshop will be held on the topic with the participation of experts from governmental and stakeholder bodies in the Member States as well as candidate countries. Deliverable: Workshop Proceedings and Conclusions A review will be made of existing data sources on environmental risks and their links to diseases with significant public health impact such as cancers, including consideration of genetic and lifestyle contributions. The objective is to develop a web-based catalogue with links to those databases with maximum coverage and quality.

Where possible use will be made of existing databases (WHO, EU etc.) to avoid duplication Deliverable: First edition of on-line data catalogue Active assessment of available models for the determination of environmental/lifestyle health risks. A review of models will be made in relation to a limited number of health impacts and the models will be assessed against the data available in the Member States and elsewhere. There is particular interest in tracing the environmental and other origins of the striking differences between Member States and even regions in the incidence and mortality rates for certain cancers. Statistical, model-based and other techniques will be applied, and some model development will be undertaken as appropriate. A benchmark with international participation will be initiated. Deliverable: Report on the models available for selected health risks and their assessment against available data. Launch of a benchmark.

Establishment of a strategy for the continuation of the Action. Consultations with customer DGs and with the managers of the related Actions of this MAWP plus input from national experts, as well as the results from the actions listed above will shape the future course of the Action, which should increasingly focus on policy issues, such as the effectiveness of competing risk management strategies and the optimisation of efforts to improve public health through risk-informed integrated planning, regulation, incentive and enforcement. Deliverable: Strategic Plan for the remainder of the Framework Programme and beyond.

Summary of the Action:
The WHO has recently estimated that 25-30% of the global burden of disease can be attributed to environmental risk factors, with lifestyle-related and genetic factors making up the remainder. In the case of cancer, the second most common cause of death in the EU and other developed countries after heart/circulatory diseases (and on the rise in the developing world), environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, chemicals and radiation may cause or contribute to 80% of the reported cases. The forthcoming Community Strategy on Environment and Health will explicitly address the adverse health effects of exposure to environmental stressors, helping to establish a clear link between the health risks posed by the various factors and their combined effects, and the regulatory and other policy measures adopted to control and reduce exposure to them.

There is significant potential for exploiting the recent advances in human genetics and biochemistry to reduce the confounding effects of the numerous factors involved and so render more precise the policy measures required to reduce the incidence and mortality due to cancer and other diseases. The companion JRC Action 22: Total Human Exposure Assessment Study will refine the methodology for combined exposure and the associated health risk factors. In this action the focus is on the harmonisation of national and international approaches and the development and assessment of models to assess the total health risk posed by a combination of environmental and other factors, particularly as concerns the risks of the various cancers. A theme of the research action will be the comparison of risk assessment methods as practised in the Member States and the fostering of a consensus on what works best. It draws on the expertise and information from other ISAs in the MAWP of 2003-2006, notably those on food quality (1.1), chemicals (3.1), air quality and environmental radioactivity (5.1) and risk assessment methodologies (H3.3), and will be performed in close collaboration with Public Health and Environment and Health initiatives in the Member States.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research


Institute for Health and Consumer Protection
Via E. Fermi 1
21020 Ispra