Intended for healthcare professionals


Research priorities in environmental health

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 19 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1636

We need to be sure that improving the environment does not harm health

  1. Göran Pershagen, Professor (
  1. Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, S-171-77 Stockholm

    Education and debate pp 1678-93

    Environmental issues are often high up on the political agenda. However, environmental health aspects tend to receive a lower priority. When conflicts of interest occur with other environmentalconcerns this may result in negative consequences for public health. In Scandinavia, for example, indoor ventilation has been reduced substantially in many dwellings to save energy, but that has led to increased humidity and prevalence of house dust mites.1 Levels of house dust mites in certain poorly ventilated houses near the polar circle are comparable to those in subtropical areas, contributing to childhood asthma and allergy. Similarly, biomass (wood burning) for local heating is promoted because it is a renewable source of energy, and diesel vehicles are promoted because of their lower emissions of carbon dioxide per kilometre than conventional gasoline engines.2 Both, however, lead to increased emissions of …

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