The Health Protection Agency has launched a consultation on ways to improve the environment and health of children and young people in the UK.

The Children’s Environment and Health Strategy will recommend ways to meet the UK’s commitments to the Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE)

The plan aims to improve water and sanitation, reduce injuries and obesity, reduce pollution and protect children from environmental hazards.

It follows the publication of a report from the agency last autumn which found that while child death rates and ill health are being reduced, there are still a number of areas which should be tackled, such as air pollution.

The report found that about a third of all GP appointments are for children under 15 and the top four types of disease affecting them are largely respiratory problems.

It noted that emissions of particulate matter have dropped dramatically, but air quality targets in some areas, notably London’s Marylebone Road, are still not being met.

In 2004, the air quality target for ground level ozone was met at just 44% of sites being monitored, and experts are concerned about the possible links between such air pollution and childhood asthma.

Professor Pat Troop, chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, said: “I welcome this strategy to protect the health of UK children from environmental hazards.

“By building on current initiatives, ensuring better coordination across Government departments and tackling locations such as schools, we can drive forward change for the benefit of today’s children and future generations.”

The consultation documents can be found here and comments and feedback on the strategy should be returned by June 13.

Kate Martin

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