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Report warns 'healthier Europeans' of emerging chemical risks

Europeans are living healthier and longer lives than ever before, according to a newly published report.

However the report, produced by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Joint Research Centre, says that fresh health risks are emerging, many associated with new chemicals, new products and changing lifestyle patterns.

And Environment and human health highlights a "health gap" that matches the disparity in environmental conditions in Europe to the varying levels of health and life expectancy.

Among points highlighted by the report are:

  • global sales of products in the chemicals sector doubled between 2000 and 2009, and there has been an increasing range of chemicals on the market, some of which affect human health;
  • growing concern over the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs);
  • increased worries over water quality, in particular to do with pharmaceutical residues and EDCs that may not be fully removed by water treatment; and
  • that nanotechnology applications may be an emerging risk, as little is known about the effects of nanomaterials on the human body.

Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director, said "This report really reinforces some of the key links between health and the environment. People are now exposed to many different harmful factors, which together are reducing both lifespans and wellbeing.”

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