26 September 2011
On Monday 26 September 2011 environmental health practitioners and institutes around the globe celebrated the first ever World Environmental Health Day. The initiative, which was launched by the International Federation of Environmental Health with a Proclamation at its September Council Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, was celebrated here in the UK by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and by environmental health practitioners across the country.
The theme which was chosen for this inaugural World Environmental Health Day event was air pollution. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health chose to mark the event by hosting a conference on air quality at 15Hatfields, its London Headquarters. 15 Hatfields is one of London’s premier sustainable events venues.
The conference discussed how poor air quality, both indoor and outdoor, is a major cause of ill health and showcased the lifesaving work of environmental health practitioners (EHPs) in reducing air pollution. It featured a mix of speakers, presentations and audience debate. Case studies were presented to show some of the ways in which the problem of air pollution is being tackled.
Presentations from the Conference are now available.
Other World Environmental Health Day Events
Cheshire West and Chester Council (www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk)
Cheshire West and Chester Council used World Environmental Health Day to promote its acclaimed air quality information service which in 2011 was ranked joint fourth out of 431 council websites providing air quality information to the public. The rankings, developed by the Air Quality Bulletin gave Cheshire West and Chester Council five out of five for quality. The council takes its environmental health role very seriously, working to reduce the impact of air pollution and to provide information and reassurance to its residents. Through the work of its local Air Quality Groups it raises awareness of air quality which can affect community wellbeing and deals with the common perceptions that people have in relation to the air they breathe in their locality. The Council has three monitoring stations in and around Ellesmere Port, one in Chester and one in Helsby. The Ellesmere Port Air Quality Forum was recognised at the North West Public Health Awards for its significant contribution to public health in 2009. The purpose of the forum is to provide independent information and reassurance to the public about the air that they breathe. Its achievements have demonstrably reduced concerns over air pollution in the area since 2000.
Stafford Borough Council (www.staffordbc.gov.uk)
Stafford Borough Council published its 2011 Air Quality Progress Report on 26th September 2011. Two road shows were arranged to raise awareness of both indoor and outdoor air pollution. This included a model house which highlighted the problem of indoor pollution e.g. carbon monoxide and smoke etc in particularly to the elderly and vulnerable.
Environmental charity Sustrans hosted an information session to unveil the work it is doing to monitor air quality on London Greenways. Sustrans in London is working with Clean Air in London, Mapping for Change and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) on an initiative which monitors levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on London Greenways and compares them to alternative and comparable routes on busy and main roads. It is calling on London politicians, volunteers, supporters and others to help them place and monitor NO2 monitoring boxes over four weeks before they are then analysed and results mapped. Official figures show that air pollution in London is at its highest level since 2003. Poor air quality is leading to the deaths of at least 4,000 Londoners a year, and the city has already been threatened with fines of £300 million for its breaches of EU air pollution limits. If the situation continues to worsen in 2012, the city will again face hundreds of millions of pounds in fines, this time from both the EU and the International Olympic Committee.
City of London Corporation (www.cityoflondon.gov.uk)
To celebrate the inaugural World Environmental Health Day, the City of London Corporation hosted an early evening reception at Guildhall. The theme of the Day, ‘air quality,’ is an important issue for the City Corporation. The City of London has experienced great improvements in air quality over the past 60 years since the infamous urban smogs. However, levels of pollution still pose a significant hazard to health. It is estimated that over 4,000 deaths per year in London are attributed to poor air quality. The event provided a unique opportunity to find out about the latest developments in the City Corporation’s efforts to improve air quality in the Square Mile.
CIEH Northern Ireland (www.cieh-nireland.org)
Environmental health students from the University of Ulster, who are currently undertaking placements with the CIEH Northern Ireland Directorate, organised an event at the university’s Jordanstown campus on 26th September to promote the importance of environmental health. They used the event to educate students and lecturers about what environmental health involves and the importance of the service. They hosted a stand, which had a rolling presentation examining the five core areas of environmental health, and what the world would look like without legislation and environmental health practitioners. They also handed out leaflets to encourage the public to read the information in their own time.
Environmental Health Officers Association, Ireland (EHOA) (www.ehoa.ie)
The EHOA launched a World Environmental Health Day Poster Competition for schools. The competition was open to all national school children in 5th and 6th classes from all over the Republic of Ireland. The EHOA goal is to encourage and inform children that they can influence environmental factors which affect their health.