Environmental Health in Israel | 2014

Environmental Health in Israel 2014  Conclusions and Recommendations should be paid to the use of recycled wastewater and sludge in agriculture, addressing the issues not only of metals, but of organics such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, PAHs, and POPs, which may be taken up by plants or spread by dust particles in the air. There is little regulation of chemicals in consumer products. This has been evidenced by excessive use of flame retardants, often without proof of efficacy. There is also a tendency to move from one chemical of concern to another with less information on safety, as evidenced by voluntary removal of BPA from baby bottles and replacement with other largely untested additives. Israel is a world leader in research on the health effects of non-ionizing radiation. If some of the studies turn out to be harbingers of things to come, we may have major health consequences from the nearly ubiquitous presence of wireless equipment. In addition, Israel would be well advised to increase its understandings and develop adaptation strategies for dealing with the health impacts of climate change which involve not only heat stress, but food safety, water safety, change in patterns of vector-borne disease, and increased air pollution. Biomonitoring offers clear advantages in providing information about exposures of the general population to environmental contaminants. Widespread and statistically based biomonitoring programs can demonstrate changes, both good and bad, in the exposure of different segments of the Israeli population. This can demonstrate success in reducing exposure to certain contaminants, but can also provide opportunities for targeted action to reduce exposures. It is important to be forward thinking, and look not only for organophosphate pesticides, but for pyrethroids; not only for legacy POPs such as PCBs, but of current use compounds such as BFRs and PFCs, not only endogenous steroids but of a wide variety of high production volume endocrine disrupting compounds. There is a clear need for increased interactions between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environmental Protection, as well as other Ministries dealing with transportation, agriculture, and commerce. For example, the location of homes and schools should be examined in relation to major roadways. There is growing evidence that proximity to high volume traffic is associated with adverse health effects, not only in adults, but in children from the time they are in the womb. In Israel, as throughout the world, chronic non-communicable diseases are the largest contributors to both morbidity and mortality. More attention should be paid to the developmental origins of health and disease. For example, the exponential increase in overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes may have their origin in early life exposures to environmental chemicals, including tobacco smoke, pesticides, POPs, etc. The establishment of longitudinal birth cohorts will allow this to be studied and potentially avoided for future generations. The dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and cognitive effects has occurred too rapidly to be caused by changes in our genes, and are likely due to environmental agents of many types. - 90 -

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