Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE)

International lead poisoning prevention week of action


Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, yet lead exposure is estimated to account for 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions. Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year. 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.

UN Climate Summit thematic session: Climate, Health and Jobs

Ahead of the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York, the health sector added its voice, loud and clear, to growing concerns around climate change and called for swift action to mitigate the human cost of a warming world.

Air quality deteriorating in many of the world's cities

7 May 2014
Air quality deteriorating in many of the world's cities

Air quality in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor (ambient) air pollution fails to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels, putting people at additional risk of respiratory disease and other health problems. WHO’s urban air quality database covers 1600 cities across 91 countries. Only 12% of the people living in cities reporting on air quality reside in cities where the quality complies with WHO air quality guideline levels.

Health through a better environment

Environmental hazards are responsible for as much as a quarter of the total burden of disease world-wide, and more than one-third of the burden among children. Heading that list are diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries and malaria. The disease burden is much higher in the developing world, although in the case of certain non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, the per capita disease burden is larger in developed countries. Health impacts of environmental hazards run across more than 80 diseases and types of injury.
Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk.
Worldwide, as many as 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environments healthier.

In focus