Industrial contaminated sites and health: results of a European survey

Piedad Martin-Olmedo, Carmen Sánchez-Cantalejo, Carla Ancona, Andrea Ranzi, Lisa Bauleo, Antony Fletcher, Juan Pedro Arrebola, Roberto Pasetto, Kees de Hoogh, Marco Martuzzi, Ilse Loots, Bert Morrens, Ivano Iavarone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: industrially contaminated sites (ICSs) have been recognised as a major public health concern since they involve exposure to multiple environmental stressors, normally distributed unevenly within population. The COST Action on Industrially Contaminated Sites and Health Network (ICSHNet) comprises a European network of experts and institutions to clarify needs and priorities for better characterising the impact on environment and health of ICS. OBJECTIVES: evaluate the availability of information and studies concerning selected ICSs in participating Countries within the ICSHNet, with particular consideration on the accessibility to environmental, health and demographic data, and research and assessment tools. METHODS: to evaluate the availability of data, an Action Questionnaire (AQ) was developed based on previous questionnaires used in different European projects and on expert consultation. The AQ, with 84 items organised in eight sections, was adapted to an on-line version using the software LimeSurvey. The survey was sent to 47 participants within the ICSHNet, to report over a list of 99 ICSs previously identified. RESULTS: information was gathered from 81 sites out of the initially selected 99, reported by 45 participants from 27 Countries (82% of Countries in the ICSHNet). The predominant polluting activities were waste disposal (46%) and chemical industries (37%), affecting all environmental media, but more extensively surface and groundwater (70%) and soil (68%). Main categories of contaminants affecting different media were heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons, but also BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene) and ambient air pollutants (e.g., particulate matter, SOx). Human health risk assessment was the most prevalent methodological approach for characterising impacts on health (32%), followed by epidemiological studies (26%), and health impact assessment (12%). The low reporting, both referring to data availability or methodologies, could be due to absence of data, or to the fact that the reporting person (many of them from the public health sector) did not know how to reach the environmental information. CONCLUSIONS: survey findings suggest that improving the collection and access to specific environmental, health and demographic data related to ICSs is crucial to meet the methodological requirement to better analyse the health impact of ICSs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalEpidemiologia e Prevenzione
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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