THE NEED FOR INFORMATION: ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH INDICATORS
3.1IntroductionIt has been recognised that in many parts of the developing world the burden of disease attributed to environmental factors is large (WHO, 1997). Even in the developed world (and focusing for simplicity on the physical environment) new pollutants are emerging which pose threats to human health, and for which the health burden estimates are unknown or hard to measure. Against this background, there is clearly an urgent need for action to reduce the environmental health burden. This can be achieved, for example, through:
|▪ Technological innovation to develop new, cleaner and more sustainable methods of production. |
|▪ Demand control to reduce the pressures from consumption and resource use. |
|▪ Environmental improvement to reduce the hazards involved, especially in those areas where human exposure may occur. |
|▪ Education and awareness raising to help individuals better appreciate the environmental risks to which they are exposed, and the personal opportunities which exist for risk avoidance and reduction. |
For any given environmental health problem, actions need to be taken through all the measures specified above. Certainly, technological innovations are likely to have a sustained, longer-term impact, but in the short-term public education and even therapeutic actions are also needed. All of these actions are potentially costly and therefore they all depend on the availability of reliable information. Information may thus be needed for the following (Briggs, 1995):
|▪ Therapeutic interventions to minimise the health impact on those already affected. |
|▪ To help identify and prioritise the problems which exist. |
|▪ To inform the numerous groups of stakeholders involved. |
|▪ To provide a rational framework for discussion and debate. |
|▪ To define, evaluate and compare the actions which might be taken. |
*This chapter was prepared by C. Corvalán, D. Briggs and T. Kjellström
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Decision-Making in Environmental Health: From Evidence to Action.
Contributors: C. Corvalán - Editor, D. Briggs - Editor, G. Zielhuis - Editor.
Publisher: E & FN Spon.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 2000.
Page number: 25.
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