Eco-action will lead to healthier population

The Environment Agency is calling for more action to tackle pollution on the grounds that a cleaner country means a healthier populous.

The plea, which came out of the agency's latest board meeting, is backed up by hard evidence in the form of a new report, Better Environment, Healthier People.

While good progress has already been made in contributing to the protection of public health - emissions to air by industry fell substantially over the past 10 years, in large part as a result of tighter regulation carried out by the EA - more needs to be done.

"Our recent report Better Environment, Healthier People confirms that people's health and their environment are inextricably linked," said Barbara Young, chief executive of the agency.

"With this in mind we need to work closely with health professionals and others to drive forward change to create a better place for people not just wildlife."

The EA believes that by focussing efforts on environmental improvements, action can be taken to improve the health and well-being of the entire nation.

It has developed work plans addressing environment and health priorities for a number of areas including;

  • Air Quality - reduce exposure to particulates and develop more health-based standards.

  • Chemicals - reduce or eliminate the release of dangerous chemicals from industry through regulation.

  • Flooding - incorporate and consider the impacts of flooding on human health when assessing flooding management schemes.

  • Water Quality - improve understanding of risks to health from recreational use of water bodies and monitoring of wastewater treatment practices.

    "We have already worked closely with local authorities highlighting the importance of considering good air quality in approving development and transport plans," said Baroness Young.

    "We will be working in future with other Government Departments and research organisations on similar projects.

    "Good progress has been made on identifying environment and health priorities, but there is more that we need to do to improve the environment to benefit people's health."
    The report, detailing the agency's health-boosting proposals and how they could be implemented, can be found on its website.

    By Sam Bond

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