The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, on the occasion of World Environment Day, that every year 1.4 million Europeans die prematurely due to contaminated environments and pollution, representing at least 15 percent of deaths totals of Europe.
Also, according to their estimates, European citizens lose 50 million years of healthy life annually as a result of environmental risks. In particular, environmental risk factors like pollution are responsible for about 26 percent of ischemic heart disease, 25 percent of strokes and 17 percent of cancers.
The United Nations body has recalled that the European Center for Environment and Health (EHEC) of the WHO in Bonn (Germany) supports countries and partners to identify policies and actions that can benefit both the environments and human health, using the best available evidence.
Also, the EHEC is supporting the European Member States in the application of the health and environmental dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Health and well-being linked to work-related and ecological factors are results, determinants, and facilitators of sustainable development.
An example of how changing consumption patterns can improve the environment is the use and disposal of plastics. And, every year, the countries of the European Union (EU) generate 25 million tons of plastic waste, and less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling.
To address this, in January this year the European Union adopted its first plastics strategy as part of its circular economy package approved in 2015. A circular economy focuses on using fewer resources and less energy and reducing waste, time that promotes long-term recycling.
In collaboration with partners and key actors, WHO continues to investigate this area and will complete an evaluation report on the circular economy and its implications for human health later in 2018.