27 January 2015

UK Committee calls for halt on fracking in the UK

The Environmental Audit Committee of the UK Parliament published a report today in which it called for a moratorium on fracking until the climate and environmental health impacts had been investigated further.
The report is a summary of the statements made, and responses to questions, by a range of stakeholders and the conclusions that the Committee reached on the basis of those statements and answers. It is a useful summary of the key issues in relation to the environmental and  health impacts and what key stakeholders considered the risks and dangers are; or are not. It is not a scientific review of the evidence.
The committee re-affirms the importance of key mitigation measures that have been identified in a number of other fracking reports and papers. Two key ones are monitoring health impacts across the lifecycle including post closure and being open about the chemicals used.
Despite the assurances from some that environmental risks can be safely accommodated by  existing regulatory systems, an extensive range of uncertainties remains over particular  hazards — to groundwater quality and water supplies,  from waste an d air emissions , to our  health and  to  biodiversity,  to the  geological integrity of the areas involved, and  from  noise  and disruption.  Uncertainty about their significance is in part a reflection of the fact that fracking operations have yet to move beyond the exploratory stage in the UK. It is imperative that the environment is protected from potentially irreversible damage.
Fracking must be prohibited outright in protected and nationally important areas.
Full containment of methane must be mandated.
Fracking should be prohibited in all  water source protection zones.

12 January 2015

UQ - Mining and resettlement research initiative

Mining for the Common Good

As a multi-party, industry-University research collaboration on mining and resettlement, ComRel will build knowledge for practical application. This initiative is the first of its kind.

The aim is to:

  •  improve understanding of how mining and resettlement risks are being managed by the industry.
  • identify strategies for improving outcomes for people affected by mining and resettlement.
  • conduct applied research that informs future policy and practice.
  •  contribute to debates about social due diligence and the development of social safeguards.    
For full article: click here

8 January 2015

Health impact assessment of traffic noise in Madrid, Spain

Environmental Research Volume 137, February 2015, Pages 136–140

  • The results obtained tend to question the WHO health protection threshold values. 
  • This study highlights the importance of traffic noise to the health in large cities. 
  • These results serve to highlight the need to implement noise-abatement measures.


The relationship between environmental noise and health has been examined in depth. In view of the sheer number of persons exposed, attention should be focused on road traffic noise.

The city of Madrid (Spain) is a densely populated metropolitan area in which 80% of all environmental noise exposure is attributed to traffic.

The aim of this study was to quantify avoidable deaths resulting from reducing the impact of equivalent diurnal noise levels (LeqD) on daily cardiovascular and respiratory mortality among people aged ≥65 years in Madrid.

A health impact assessment of (average 24 h) LeqD and PM2.5 levels was conducted by using previously reported risk estimates of mortality rates for the period 2003–2005: 

For cardiovascular causes: LeqD 1.048 (1.005, 1.092) and PM2.5 1.041(1.020, 1.062) 

For respiratory causes: LeqD 1.060 (1.000, 1.123) and PM2.5 1.030 (1.000, 1.062).

The association found between LeqD exposure and mortality for both causes suggests an important health effect. A reduction of 1 dB(A) in LeqD implies an avoidable annual mortality of 284 (31, 523) cardiovascular- and 184 (0, 190) respiratory-related deaths in the study population.

The magnitude of the health impact is similar to reducing average PM2.5levels by 10 µg/m3. Regardless of air pollution, exposure to traffic noise should be considered an important environmental factor having a significant impact on health.

Paywall: For full article click here

7 January 2015

Health Impact Assessment Practice and Potential for Integration within Environmental Impact and Strategic Environmental Assessments in Italy

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11

ABSTRACT Avoiding or minimizing potential environmental impact is the driving idea behind protecting a population’s health via Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs). However, both are often carried out without any systematic approach. This paper describes the findings of a review of HIA, EIA and SEA experiences carried out by the authors, who act as institutional competent subjects at he national and regional levels in Italy. The analysis of how health is tackled in EIA and SEA procedures could support the definition of a protocol for the integration of HIA with EIA and SEA. Although EIA and SEA approaches include the aim of protecting health, significant technical and methodological gaps are present when assessing health systematically, and their basic principles regarding assessment are unsatisfactory for promoting and addressing healthcare concepts stated by the WHO. HIA is still poorly integrated into the decision-making process, screening and monitoring phases are only occasionally implemented, and operational details are not well-defined. The collaborative approach of institutions involved in environment and health is a core element in a systematic advancement toward supporting effective decisions and effective protection of the environment and health. At the Italian national level, the definition of guidelines and tools for HIA, also in relation with EIA and SEA, is of great interest 


For full article click here 

5 January 2015

European Public Health Conference 2015

The 8th European Health Conference will be held in Milan, Italy, from the 14 to 17 October 2015.

Main theme of the conference is:

Health in Europe - from global to local practices, methods and practices.

For further information click here.

Follow on twitter: @EPHConference