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Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?

20-03-2019

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in ...

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in a variety of ways, and studies have been criticised for their methodological flaws, lack of statistical significance, and bias. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnet fields as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The European Union defined basic restrictions for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, setting maximum values that should not to be exceeded. Moreover, in view of the scientific uncertainty, the European Environment Agency advises taking a precautionary approach. Two sets of large-scale experimental studies involving laboratory animals, one from the United States National Toxicology Program and another from the Italian Ramazzini Institute, have recently brought the debate to the fore again. Both found varying levels of evidence of certain tumours in some of the animals tested. The results have nevertheless prompted diverging conclusions.

Drinking Water Directive

24-07-2017

The Drinking Water Directive (DWD) sets quality standards for drinking water and requires that Member States ensure monitoring and compliance with these standards. By and large, it has been successful, best exemplified by the high, and increasing, levels of compliance across the European Union (EU) with the microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters and values set in the DWD. Notwithstanding this overall success, evidence collected over the past years, most notably through evaluation as well ...

The Drinking Water Directive (DWD) sets quality standards for drinking water and requires that Member States ensure monitoring and compliance with these standards. By and large, it has been successful, best exemplified by the high, and increasing, levels of compliance across the European Union (EU) with the microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters and values set in the DWD. Notwithstanding this overall success, evidence collected over the past years, most notably through evaluation as well as public and stakeholder consultation, confirm the existence of challenges. These include an outdated list of parameters and parametric values; over-reliance on compliance testing at the end of the water supply chain (at the tap) and related lack of a risk-based approach to managing water quality; problems related to water quality in small water supplies; lack of connection to public water networks for many citizens; problems related to water contact materials; as well as a lack of information for citizens. Although European Commission Directive 2015/1787 recently introduced elements of a risk-based approach, the current text of the directive does not appear to integrate the World Health Organization guidelines on drinking water quality sufficiently, both in terms of parameters and parametric values (which have not been updated in the DWD since 1998), as well as the lack of a comprehensive risk-based approach in water quality management that would systematically address potential risks throughout the water supply chain. The European Commission is expected to make a proposal to amend the directive in late 2017.

Tackling childhood obesity

10-03-2017

Childhood obesity remains a considerable public health problem in the European Union (EU). While multiple factors play a role, the global increase in overweight children is mainly linked to a shift in diet towards foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar, paired with a decline in physical activity. Essentially, children today are growing up in an environment that is conducive to weight gain and obesity. Excess weight in children is associated with a number of serious health consequences. These ...

Childhood obesity remains a considerable public health problem in the European Union (EU). While multiple factors play a role, the global increase in overweight children is mainly linked to a shift in diet towards foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar, paired with a decline in physical activity. Essentially, children today are growing up in an environment that is conducive to weight gain and obesity. Excess weight in children is associated with a number of serious health consequences. These include early onset of obesity-related chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well as psychosocial complications. The European Commission supports Member States' efforts to take on childhood obesity in a number of ways, including the EU action plan on childhood obesity 2014-2020, which is up for review this year. The current Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU has identified tackling childhood obesity among its priorities for health, and intends to present draft Council conclusions on the issue. A technical report on public procurement of food for health in schools, jointly drafted with the Commission, has just been released.

European Union action on cancer

02-02-2017

Cancer is a major public health concern in terms of disease burden and economic cost. Prevention and early detection are key. The European Union (EU) contributes to tackling cancer with awareness-raising, guidance, and investment in research, as well as information and coordination. This 'At a glance' note updates an earlier version of October 2015: PE 569.037.

Cancer is a major public health concern in terms of disease burden and economic cost. Prevention and early detection are key. The European Union (EU) contributes to tackling cancer with awareness-raising, guidance, and investment in research, as well as information and coordination. This 'At a glance' note updates an earlier version of October 2015: PE 569.037.

Limits on exposure to carcinogens and mutagens at work

02-02-2017

The European Commission proposes to amend Directive 2004/37/EC by expanding its scope and by including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer-causing chemical agents. According to the Commission, this would improve workers' health protection, increase the effectiveness of the EU framework and promote clarity for economic operators. Overall, the proposal has received a broad welcome from stakeholders. The Council reached a general approach on 13 October 2016. The ...

The European Commission proposes to amend Directive 2004/37/EC by expanding its scope and by including and/or revising occupational exposure limit values for a number of cancer-causing chemical agents. According to the Commission, this would improve workers' health protection, increase the effectiveness of the EU framework and promote clarity for economic operators. Overall, the proposal has received a broad welcome from stakeholders. The Council reached a general approach on 13 October 2016. The European Parliament's EMPL Committee rapporteur has presented her draft report, which was considered in December. A total of 196 amendments have been tabled on the Commission proposal. The Committee vote is scheduled for 27-28 February 2017.

More action needed on antibiotic resistance

09-11-2016

The rise of antimicrobial resistance – when bacteria and other microorganisms become resistant to the treatments used against the infections they cause – is a pressing public health issue. Cross-sector efforts, particularly awareness-raising, are being intensified, both in the EU and globally. This 'At a glance' note updates an earlier version of June 2015: PE 559.484.

The rise of antimicrobial resistance – when bacteria and other microorganisms become resistant to the treatments used against the infections they cause – is a pressing public health issue. Cross-sector efforts, particularly awareness-raising, are being intensified, both in the EU and globally. This 'At a glance' note updates an earlier version of June 2015: PE 559.484.

Spotlight on mental health in Europe

10-10-2016

Mental health problems not only exact a toll on the people affected, they also put pressure on health, economic and welfare systems. The EU is promoting mental health through various instruments. Globally, World Mental Health Day is held on 10 October each year to raise awareness.

Mental health problems not only exact a toll on the people affected, they also put pressure on health, economic and welfare systems. The EU is promoting mental health through various instruments. Globally, World Mental Health Day is held on 10 October each year to raise awareness.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

15-09-2016

Upon request by the FEMM Committee this study updates knowledge on the provision of sexual education and reproductive rights in the European Union. It involved a review of recent research and data on sexual and reproductive health, and case studies in Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom. Good quality sexual and relationship education (SRE) reduces risk of sexually transmitted infection, unplanned pregnancy and sexual exploitation amongst young people. However, the implementation of sex and relationship ...

Upon request by the FEMM Committee this study updates knowledge on the provision of sexual education and reproductive rights in the European Union. It involved a review of recent research and data on sexual and reproductive health, and case studies in Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom. Good quality sexual and relationship education (SRE) reduces risk of sexually transmitted infection, unplanned pregnancy and sexual exploitation amongst young people. However, the implementation of sex and relationship education is inconsistent across Member States.

Autor extern

Katie McCracken, Sergio Márquez, Sarah Priest, Ana Fitzsimons and Kasturi Torchia (Opcit Research)

Chernobyl 30 years on: Environmental and health effects

22-04-2016

In the early hours of 26 April 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the explosions it triggered caused a major release of nuclear radioactive material into the atmosphere. Radionuclides were scattered in the vicinity of the plant and over much of Europe. The Chernobyl fallout had a major impact on both agricultural and natural ecosystems in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, as well as in many other European countries. Radionuclides were taken up by plants and later by animals. In ...

In the early hours of 26 April 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the explosions it triggered caused a major release of nuclear radioactive material into the atmosphere. Radionuclides were scattered in the vicinity of the plant and over much of Europe. The Chernobyl fallout had a major impact on both agricultural and natural ecosystems in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, as well as in many other European countries. Radionuclides were taken up by plants and later by animals. In some areas, they were subsequently found in milk, meat, forest food products, freshwater fish and wood. Environmental impacts vary according to location and ecosystem. Forests and fresh water bodies have been among the most affected ecosystems. The impacts on wildlife in the vicinity of the Chernobyl plant are disputed. The impacts on human health have been extensively studied, although experts are not unanimous in their views. Official assessments by United Nations agencies have been challenged. The major population groups exposed were clean-up workers, evacuees and residents of contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. There has been no clear evidence of any measurable increase in radiation-induced adverse health effects in other European countries. The immediate and short-term effects resulting from heavy fallout exposure include radiation sickness and cataracts. Late effects are thyroid cancer, especially in children and adolescents, and leukaemia among exposed workers. The accident has also had important psychosocial effects.

The public health dimension of the European migrant crisis

08-01-2016

Europe is currently experiencing an unprecedented influx of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants. European Union Member States are faced with a pressing need to address, among other issues, the resulting public health consequences. The challenges for public health authorities relate to migrants' individual health problems, whether these affect the resident population, and how to respond adequately to their needs, including providing access to healthcare. The risk of an outbreak of infectious ...

Europe is currently experiencing an unprecedented influx of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants. European Union Member States are faced with a pressing need to address, among other issues, the resulting public health consequences. The challenges for public health authorities relate to migrants' individual health problems, whether these affect the resident population, and how to respond adequately to their needs, including providing access to healthcare. The risk of an outbreak of infectious diseases resulting from the arrival of migrant populations is extremely low. These diseases are primarily associated with poverty, and refugees and migrants are exposed mainly to infectious diseases that are common in Europe, independently of migration. In terms of an immediate public health response, the World Health Organization recommends a triage of migrants, followed by proper diagnosis and treatment targeting specific groups. It advocates full access to high-quality care for all migrants, irrespective of their legal status. In the longer term, it stresses the need to ensure that national health systems are adequately prepared. The European Parliament has repeatedly emphasised the importance of providing healthcare to vulnerable groups such as migrants, independently of their legal status. The European Commission has mobilised emergency funding and supports projects under the European Union Health Programme. Moreover, it recently introduced the 'personal health record' for establishing migrants' medical needs, to be made available in locations where groups of migrants enter the European Union. In addition, the European Centre for Disease Control has issued expert scientific advice.

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