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Children and young people can be more sensitive to environmental influences on health than adults. This is because they have different levels and patterns of environmental exposures than adults, their biological systems and organs are still developing, and also as a result of their behaviour and lack of awareness of environmental hazards and risk.
At the World Health Organization’s (WHO) fourth Ministerial conference ‘The future for our children’ in Budapest (2004) the WHO European Member States made a commitment to the Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe (CEHAPE). The aim of the CEHAPE programme is to develop and implement national plans and policies to address local priorities to reduce the burden of disease among children caused by environmental risk factors.
The United Kingdom’s (UK) response has included the development of (i) a Children’s Environment and Health Strategy and Action Plan for the UK and (ii) this environmental health toolkit which will help with the delivery of the Strategy. The programme entails developing a core set of environmental and health indicators to describe and characterise the burden of disease and hazards among children at a local authority level within Government Office Regions (GOR) of England, and Wales.