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Environmental health inequalities in Europe Assessment report

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Environmental health inequalities in Europe Assessment report

WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Bonn Office
WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2012

Available online PDF [212p.] at:

“…..Recent debate on the social determinants of health has indicated that the unequal distribution of health and well-being in national populations is a major challenge for public health governance. This is equally true for environmental health conditions and for exposure to environmental risk, which varies strongly by a range of sociodemographic determinants and thus causes inequalities in exposure to – and potentially in disease resulting from – environmental conditions.

Interventions tackling such environmental health inequalities need to be based on an assessment of their magnitude and on the identification of population groups that are most exposed or most vulnerable to environmental risks. However, data to quantify the environmental health inequality situation are not abundant, making comprehensive assessments difficult at both national and international levels.

WHO Regional Office for Europe has carried out a baseline assessment of the magnitude of environmental health inequality in the European Region based on a core set of 14 inequality indicators. The main findings of the assessment report indicate that socioeconomic and demographic inequalities in risk exposure are present in all countries and need to be tackled throughout the Region. However, the report also demonstrates that each country has a specific portfolio of inequalities, documenting the need for country-specific inequality assessments and tailored interventions on the national priorities….”


Executive summary


Chapter 1. The concept of environmental health inequalities

A historic perspective
Inequality and inequity
Identification and assessment of inequalities and inequities
Environmental health inequality: hazard and risk
Sociodemographic factors, exposure and vulnerability
The psychosocial dimension in environmental health inequality
Framing the problem

Chapter 2. Housing-related inequalities

Data and methods
Inequalities in inadequate water supply
Inequalities in lack of a flush toilet in the dwelling
Inequalities in lack of a bath or shower in the dwelling
Inequalities in overcrowding
Inequalities in dampness in the home
Inequalities in keeping the home adequately warm
Inequalities in keeping the home adequately cool

Chapter 3. Injury-related inequalities

Inequalities in work-related injuries
Inequalities in fatal road traffic injuries (RTIs)
Inequalities in fatal poisoning
Inequalities in fatal falls

Chapter 4. Environment-related inequalities

Inequalities in noise exposure at home
Inequalities in lack of access to recreational or green areas
Inequalities in second-hand smoke exposure at home
Inequalities in second-hand smoke exposure at work

Chapter 5. Gaps in evidence and restrictions on assessing environmental health inequalities

Missing data
Limited stratification by sociodemographic determinants
Data quality
Consistency and comparability
Access to data
Cumulative and multiple exposures
Country priorities
Data gaps and relevance for public health

Chapter 6. Priorities for action on environmental health inequalities

Suggested subregional priorities for action
Suggested priorities for national action


Annex 1. National environmental health inequality fact sheets

Annex 2. Examples of national practices in analysis and presentation of environmental health inequalities

Annex 3. Assessment of priority areas for national action


Source: PAHO/WHO

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 March 2012 14:32 )  

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