Combinations of environmental and lifestyle-related factors may be harming people's health.
A large number of studies have looked at the effects of individual hazards on our health, but scientists now need to switch their focus to investigating the combined impact of environmental and lifestyle factors, a report has claimed.
Published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, the 'Environment and Human Health' report points out that people are exposed to multiple environmental factors throughout their lives.
It claims that more research is needed to understand the impacts of these environmental factors on vulnerable members of society.
"This report really reinforces some of the key links between health and the environment," said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA.
"People are now exposed to many different harmful factors, which together are reducing both lifespans and wellbeing," she observed.
According to the report, Europeans are living longer in good health than in the past, largely thanks to efforts to reduce levels of environmental contaminants in the air, water and food supplies.
However, the problem has not completely gone away and several new health risks are emerging in the form of new chemicals and products.
For instance, there was a doubling in global sales of products from the chemicals sector between 2000 and 2009, with some substances thought to be hazardous for human health.
One example is hormone disrupting chemicals, which are used in pharmaceutical products, pesticides and cosmetics and which may contribute to low sperm counts, impaired neural development, obesity and even cancer.
There are particular concerns that these chemicals may be making their way into our water supply, as they are not always removed by processes used to treat water.
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