Countries across Europe committed to take urgent action to stop millions of preventable deaths every year linked to climate change and pollution during the 7th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe during 5-7 July in Budapest, Hungary. ATHLETE, EXPANSE and EQUAL-LIFE, partners in the European Human Exposome Network (EHEN), participated in the event to highlight the various ways research into the Exposome can benefit future policy action to end pollution and protect health.

Each year, across the 53-country WHO European region, an estimated 1.4 million deaths are linked to environmental risk factors, such as pollution and climate change. Countries meeting at the 7th WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health adopted a declaration with a specific set of actions to better prepare health systems to tackle the impact of climate change, reduce the health effects of pollution, and integrate nature and biodiversity considerations into environment and health policies, which means taking a holistic approach to human and planetary health.

Throughout the conference, partners of the European Human Exposome Network highlighted the important contributions of EU research initiatives to the EU’s efforts to combat pollution and safeguard public health: 

  • Experts from the European Commission’s Directorate-General (DG) for the Environment, the European Environment Agency (EEA) and researchers from the Urban Health Cluster, the European Cluster on Health Impacts of Micro- and Nanoplastics (CUSP), the Green Deal Health Cluster and the Indoor Air Quality (IDEAL) Cluster came together for a special parallel session organised by the Commission’s DG Research and Innovation and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

    Speakers and panelists discussed the different ways EU-funded research initiatives are helping to tackle the impact of environmental pollution on people’s health, and their potential to inform policy implementation measures. The event was opened by Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation. Other speakers included Joachim d’Eugenio (EU Commission DG for Environment) and Martin Adams (EEA), who emphasized the important contributions of EU-funded research initiatives in implementing evidence-based policies to safeguard public health, like the EU Zero Pollution action plan. “Living and working in a healthy environment is a crucial factor in our own health and wellbeing”, said Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General at the EU Commission’s DG Research and Innovation. “The EU has a long record of funding ambitious research projects in environment and health, slowly but surely creating a knowledge base that policymakers can use when preparing effective legislation that protects us all. It is imperative that we continue these efforts going forward.”
  • During a parallel session on building research capacities for chemical risk assessment in Europe, Roel Vermeulen (Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Exposome Science at Utrecht University & University Medical Centre Utrecht and principal investigator of the EXPANSE project) presented EHEN’s work and the scientific challenges of studying the human exposome.

    Pointing out the key role researchers can play in tackling pollution, he highlighted that studying the Exposome can answer the need for a better understanding of how different environmental risk factors affect health and that policy solutions require transdisciplinary research and transboundary research.
  • ATHLETE showcased two posters during the official WHO poster exhibition, which explained the core concepts behind research into the Exposome and outlined the scientific highlights from the research project thus far. Both posters are available for download here.

For more information about the 7th WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, click here

To read the WHO Budapest Declaration, click here.

Click here to download the parallel session slides featuring the EU research clusters.

Click here to download ATHLETE’s poster on the project’s scientific highlights thus far. 

Click here to download ATHLETE’s poster on the project’s intervention study on reducing chemical exposures from dietary intake and personal care products.