International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action

22-28 October 2017 marks the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action, with a particular focus on eliminating lead paint. Lead poisoning is preventable, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation lead exposure accounted for 494 550 deaths and 9.3 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children. Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.

Biker on a cycle path, Thailand

Towards a healthier and safer environment

19 October 2017 – Today, we have more knowledge, evidence, and understanding than ever before about how and through what pathways climate and environmental change impact health. We know which sector policies and interventions effectively address environmental root causes of disease and in which settings these interventions will likely have the greatest impact.

WHO/Diego Rodriguez

Progressing the Sustainable Development Goals through Health in All Policies: case studies from around the world

12 October 2017 - WHO and the Government of South Australia published the Case Study Book on Health in All Policies (HiAP), which describes experiences from around the world in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. While there is no single or simple model for HiAP, there is a growing evidence base of facilitating conditions for HiAP.
The case study book documents experiences, capturing important elements of HiAP practice through an analysis of established and emerging models, it is aimed at the international community and the broader sustainable development network. It will be of interest to those who want to know more about implementing HiAP.

For Health, Make Mercury History

22 September 2017, GENEVA - The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1), convened by UN Environment, will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 at the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland. A “Mercury Week” of events will take place from 22 to 29 September, under the banner “Make Mercury History”.

Asian woman and child on motorbike

Preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by reducing environmental risk factors

12 September 2017 -- This newly released publication highlights the special relevance of environmental risks for NCDs. It presents the burden of NCDs caused by environmental risks, as well as the many areas where action on environmental determinants is needed to reduce the burden. It provides the evidence on why environmental risk reduction is essential in NCD prevention and control strategies.


2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home, more than twice as many lack safe sanitation

13 July 2017 – Some 3 in 10 people worldwide, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe, readily available water at home, and 6 in 10, or 4.5 billion, lack safely managed sanitation, according to a new report by WHO and UNICEF. The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene: 2017 Update and Sustainable Development Goal Baselines, presents the first global assessment of “safely managed” drinking water and sanitation services. The overriding conclusion is that too many people still lack access, particularly in rural areas.

PHE health topics

Group photo of adolescent boys fishing by the sea

An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments - nearly one in four of total global deaths. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.

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Commentary highlight

Environments should improve not harm our health

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health

More commentaries

Publication highlight

Preventing disease through healthy environments

A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks

Global Strategy Overview

More publications

About us

By focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented. Examples include promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures, safer management of toxic substances in the home and workplace.

Environmental health in WHO regions


Statistical information

Quantifying environmental health impacts

The environmental burden of disease quantifies the amount of disease caused by environmental risks.

Public health and environment in the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data

Mortality and burden of disease from unhealthy environment


Statement by Dr Maria Neira on International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action 2016

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