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BMJ. 1999 Jun 19;318(7199):1636-7.

Research priorities in environmental health.



Environmental issues tend to greater political attention than do environmental health aspects. Therefore, when conflicts of interest occur with other environmental concerns, negative consequences for public health may result. For example, a strategy to substantially reduce indoor ventilation in many dwellings in Scandinavia in order to save energy has led to increased humidity levels and higher prevalences of house dust mites. Wood burning for local heating is promoted because it is a renewable source of energy, and diesel vehicles are promoted because they emit lower levels of carbon dioxide per kilometer compared to conventional gas engines, but both practices lead to increased emissions of fine particulates, which have been associated with adverse health effects. Increasing the level of resources available for research into environmental health is one way to help environmental health issues receive greater attention. Environmental health research initiatives taken by the European Commission, the European Science Foundation, and the World Health Organization's regional office for Europe are noted. Environmental health research is multidisciplinary and should encompass basic science as well as applied research. International collaboration is often very useful in environmental health research.

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