Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health begins

The fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health has begun in Parma, Italy and will look at the danger and cost of climate change to the health of Europeans.

The conference will include representatives from across Europe and is an important forum on how to tackle cross-cutting environment and health issues such as climate change.

The significant risks to human health in the UK from unmitigated climate change are that heatwaves will result in an increase in heat-related deaths, and that increased coastal and river flooding will have major impacts on physical health and can also affect mental health in flood victims as a result of personal and economic loss and stress.

Also, episodic higher concentrations of ground-level ozone could lead to an increase in respiratory problems and incidence of allergies.

However, many measures to combat climate change also bring health benefits, such as reducing motor vehicle use cuts carbon dioxide emissions, which reduces respiratory problems and more walking and cycling can result in educed cardiovascular disease and reduced dementia.

Also, improved housing insulation will reduce deaths from both extreme cold and heat and a reduced need to burn solid fuel indoors could have a significant impact on child and maternal health by cutting air pollution in poorer countries.

Minister for Public Health, Gillian Merron said: "This conference will highlight the risk global warming poses to the health of our communities."

"Moves to improve public health can help tackle climate change."

Further information:
Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health

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