Schram-Bijkerk D; Dirven-van Breemen L; Otte P(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-11-04)
City-dwellers are increasingly using derelict land to cultivate vegetables together with other local residents. Like the more traditional allotments, these non-commercial 'community gardens' can contribute to public health and the quality of the neighbourhood. They provide an opportunity for physical exercise and allow people to consume homegrown fruit and vegetables. There are also indications that community gardens reduce stress while offering opportunities for social contacts. In this way, they can help to prevent health problems, although the risks of possible soil contamination and air pollution must be kept to a minimum. Urban gardens are part of a general trend towards more parks and green areas in cities, consumption of organic, locally grown products, and a closer relationship with one's own living environment. These gardens are therefore relevant to government policy on public health and the human environment, and can help to address societal challenges such as healthy ageing. These are some of the conclusions of a study of the relevant literature conducted by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). The findings will be used for several purposes, including research into the functions of urban gardens in various European countries. The study also lists the indicators which can be used to measure each of the different health impacts. The authors recommend the use of consistent measurement methods to ensure international comparability of findings, and to gain further insight into the possible contributions that urban gardens can make to urban liveability and therefore to public health.
Dusseldorp A; Maassen CBM; Heederik DJJ; Fischer PH(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-12-15)
People living near livestock farms have a lower incidence of allergy, asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) than people living further away from such farms. However, COPD patients living near livestock farms more frequently experience respiratory problems than COPD patients living elsewhere. For instance, they suffer more often from respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and wheezing, and they use more medication. This correlation becomes stronger as the number of livestock farms in the patient's living environment increases. There are also indications of a higher incidence of pneumonia among people living near poultry farms. These are some of the conclusions of a review of the available data on the health impact of living near livestock farms. The review is an update of a study of the scientific literature performed in 2008. Since then, more data have been published and research on the health of people living near livestock farms has also been conducted in the Netherlands. In contrast to most previous studies, that research was not only based on self-reported complaints, but also on data collected by general physicians. In addition, measurements of the levels of various substances and micro-organisms in the living environment were performed to assess to what extent the local residents are exposed. In the past few years, there has been much interest in the possible links between exposure to endotoxins and health problems. Endotoxins are parts of bacteria that are believed to have both harmful and protective effects on human health. Extensive attention is also devoted to the possible role of particulate matter in health problems experienced by people living near livestock farms. That role is not entirely clear, since information about the effects of particulate matter is mainly based on research conducted in urban areas. Particulate matter in urban environments is mainly produced by road traffic and its composition differs to some extent to that of particulate matter in rural areas. As a result, it may also pose different health risks. This review of the scientific literature also examined the health effects of various micro-organisms found in stables that can transfer animal diseases to humans. Livestock farmers, farm employees and veterinarians all have an elevated risk of contracting infectious diseases from these micro-organisms. Insufficient information is currently available to draw any scientifically sound conclusions about the infection risk for local residents, with the exception of Q fever (due to an outbreak in the Netherlands in 2007-2011).
van Kamp I; van Kempen EEMM; van Wijnen HJ; Verheijen E; Istamto T; Breugelmans ORP; Dirven EM; Koopman A(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-02-23)
In the Netherlands circa 845.000 residential addresses, with some 1.347.400 residents of 16 years and older, are located within 300 meter distance to a railroad track. About twenty percent of these residents experience severe annoyance from vibrations caused by trains. They complain about feelings of irritation, anger and discomfort. At night this annoyance can manifest itself in severe sleep disturbance. By far the largest part of annoyance and sleep disturbance is reported in relation to vibrations due to cargo-trains. About 528.000 people live at addresses along the railroad where vibration can be perceived, but vibrations lie below the Vmax-vibrations strength of at maximum 3,2. In the Netherlands this level is used as limit value. A large part of annoyance and sleep-disturbance is found below this limit value. From a public health point of view it is relevant to also address these levels of vibration below the maximum threshold. Because it concerns a large number of residents, much health gain can be achieved here. In order to abate these relatively low levels of vibrations not only interventions are needed which reduce the vibrations but also clear communication is necessary about factors which amplify the annoyance on top of the vibration strength. One could think of fear of damage to the home and expectations that the level of vibration will increase in the future. It is important to be aware of these feelings and to communicate in a transparent manner about future developments and potential compensation measures. Despite the fact that the complaints exist already for years, the health effects of vibration due to trains have rarely been studied among residents. In order to gain more insight in the type and size of these effects and in whom these do occur, a questionnaire survey was held among 4927 people living within 300 meters from a railroad track in the Netherlands. This study supports further guidelines for rail traffic related vibrations, but defining the norms falls outside the scope of this report. Hereto we need more information about measures and their costs. In view of the expected increase in the number of cargo-trains at some locations it is advised to monitor the health effects of these trains.
Roels JM; Verweij W; van Engelen JGM; Maas RJM; Lebret E; Houthuijs DJM; Wezenbeek JM(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-01-08)
The new National Planning Policy Framework will come into force in 2018. This system review combines existing regulations covering management and use of the environment in order to simplify and improve the decision making for projects in the environment. Standards for the quality of the natural environment are also covered under this system review. In support of this process the RIVM has compared and evaluated a large number of environmental standards. Thereby is taken into consideration how the standards interrelate, how well they are substantiated and how they work in practice. The emphasis lay on standards for the goals for 'health' and 'safety'. In the Netherlands the basic principle is applied that an unnecessary load on the environmental quality should be avoided. Man and the environment are protected against health and environmentally unacceptable risks. Thanks to this principle over the last decades and thankfully with the use of these standards it has been made possible at many locations to make our country cleaner, healthier and safer. However: the set of standards is rather complicated. It is not possible to provide a quick impression of how the standards contribute towards achieving the goals. This is because, on the one hand, there is no clear practice-focused description of the definition of health and safety. On the other hand, because standards are defined and used in different and varying ways. Furthermore, the standards do not take into account an accumulation of risks, whereas these do occur in practice. In addition to standards, RIVM is developing an 'indicator' whereby combinations of effects of a number of natural environment factors on sickness and death can be brought into the picture, such as air pollution and noise hinder. With these indicators the public and decision-takers can make choices about the spatial planning of the area. Finally it appears that moral dimensions are of influence when considering uncertain, complex or controversial risk problems whereby harmful effects are suspected, such as underground storage of CO2, the use of new technologies or drilling for shale gas. At decision-making over these issues it is necessary to take uncertainties into account because unambiguous scientific substantiation is missing. Moral dimensions, which then affect the decision making, for instance are the degree of voluntariness (is a health threat to the public applied or is there freedom of choice?) and fairness (are the benefits and obligations fairly distributed?). In these cases it is of importance that the government will start a timely dialogue with stakeholders concerning these possible moral issues. This rapport provides tools to those who support this dialogue.
Roels JM; Verweij W; van Engelen JGM; Maas RJM; Lebret E; Houthuijs DJM; Wezenbeek JM(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-01-08)
This attachment report belongs to the report 'Health and Safety in the National Planning Policy Framework. Targets, standards and considerations in respect to the quality of the natural environment' (RIVM report 2014-0138, Roels et al., 2014). It summarises relevant aspects in the derivation and foundation of a few important standards for the environmental quality and physical safety. Standards for fifteen standard frameworks are described, what they are used for, what the protection aim is and how the standard is substantiated. The history of the standards is also examined, what could be important improvements and what is the relationship between health or physical safety and the present standard. The described standard frameworks are: surface water, swimming water, sources of drinking water (surface water and ground water), air, soil, ground water (from national and from European framework), noise, smell (from industrial activity and from cattle farms), external security, explosive substances, fireworks, water safety and aviation. Each chapter is constructed in the same way, in order to refer to similar information in the same paragraph. Each chapter ends with a publication reference for the applicable chapter. The paragraphs are: 1. What are the standards? 2. What is the aim of the standard? 3. What is the protection aim of the standard? 4. How is the standard substantiated? 5. What is the history of the standard? 6. What would be important improvements in the substantiation? 7. Human health or physical safety in connection with the present standard.
Bezemer A; Wesseling J; Cassee F; Fischer P; Fokkens P; Houthuijs D; Jimmink B; de Leeuw F; Kos G; Weijers E; Keuken M; Erbrink H(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-09-24)
In the vicinity of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, concentrations of ultrafine particles (UFPs) are elevated due to aircraft traffic. Immediately beyond the airport perimeter, the average contribution of aviation to the local UFP concentration is comparable to the contribution that road traffic makes to inner-city street UFP levels. As distance from the airport site increases, the UFP concentration diminishes: about fifteen kilometres from the airport, aviation's contribution to the concentration is roughly 20 per cent of what it is immediately outside the airport. Ultrafine particulate material is the finest fraction of particulate material, made up of particles measuring less than 0.1 micrometre in diameter. Although it is generally accepted that ultrafine particulate material is hazardous, relatively little is known about it. Consequently, it is not currently possible to ascertain whether and, if so, to what extent people living and working near to Schiphol experience adverse health effects as a result of exposure to ultrafine particulate material. Those are the central findings of an exploratory study undertaken for the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Both natural processes and human activity contribute to the presence of ultrafine particulate material in the atmosphere. The main contributory human activities are the combustion of wood, the incineration of waste, and the use of fossil fuels in transport. In the spring of 2015, the concentrations of ultrafine particulate material in the atmosphere near to Schiphol Airport were measured by a consortium of four knowledge centres. The ultrafine particulate material in the area originates mainly from road traffic, aviation, and other vehicular traffic on and around the airport site. The limited data available in the scientific literature suggest that the levels measured around Schiphol are similar to those in the vicinity of other international airports. By means of computer modelling, the measured data were used to generate a map of an area surrounding Schiphol measuring roughly twenty kilometres by thirty. In most parts of the area, the total airborne UFP concentration was attributable mainly to sources other than aviation, with road traffic being the biggest contributor. The measured data show that air traffic around Schiphol and activities on the airport itself do contribute to UFP levels.
Smetsers RCGM; Blaauboer RO; Dekkers F; van der Schaaf M; Slaper H(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2015-09-30)
Concentrations of radon and thoron progeny are low in virtually all Dutch dwellings, built since 1930. That is the outcome of a national survey, conducted by RIVM in approximately 2500 dwellings in the period 2013-2014. Radon and thoron are naturally occurring radioactive noble gasses, which are formed in soil and building materials. From there, part of it may reach the indoor environment. Inhalation of non- gaseous radioactive decay products of radon and thoron contributes to the induction of lung cancer. The average concentration of radon in all dwellings equals 15,6 Bq/m3. The 50th and 95th percentiles were found to be 12,2 and 37,9 Bq/m3, respectively. In 0,4 per cent of the dwellings, values were found between 100 and 200 Bq/m3. The average concentration of thoron progeny in all dwellings equals 0,64 Bq/m3. The 50th and 95th percentiles are 0,53 and 1,37 Bq/m3, respectively. A maximum value of 13,3 Bq/m3 was recorded. Concentrations of both radon and thoron progeny were lower, on average, in dwellings built since the year 2000. We also noted a regional difference in radon concentrations, presumably due to differences in soil type. The highest regional average radon value, of approximately 40 Bq/m3, was found in the most south-eastern part of the Netherlands. In 75 dwellings, an additional measurement program was conducted to determine the relation between the exhalation of thoron from walls and the concentration of thoron progeny in the room. Thoron exhalation values exceeding ten times the median value of 0,022 Bq/m2s (with a highest value of approximately 1 Bq/m2s) were found rather frequently, but they seldom give rise to enhanced concentrations of thoron progeny. This may be explained by the fact that a thoron exhalation value from a specific spot on the wall does not represent the average exhalation of thoron from all wall surfaces in a room. Based on these results, we estimate that indoor radon and thoron are responsible for about 400 cases of lung cancer per year in the Netherlands, with an uncertainty range of 100 to 800. Most of the casualties will be smokers, since smokers are much more susceptible to the risks of radon and thoron progeny. About 70 per cent of the risk can be attributed to radon, and 30 per cent to thoron. This report is primarily written for the participants of this radon and thoron survey, as well as for other Dutch citizens. A scientific report (in English), aiming at the group of international researchers and policy makers, is scheduled for the end of 2015.
Smetsers RCGM(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2017-05-30)
There are approximately 24 thousand dwellings in the Netherlands with a time-averaged radon concentration higher than 100 becquerel (Bq) per cubic meter. Especially naturally ventilated single-family dwellings in either the southern part of Limburg or the Meuse-Rhine-Waal river delta are susceptible to higher radon concentrations: more than 80% of the Dutch dwellings with more radon than 100 Bq per cubic meter are found there. Soil characteristics in those regions cause more radon to enter the building, compared to elsewhere in the Netherlands. These results apply to dwellings built in 1930 or later; radon data from older dwellings are not available. These results were obtained from research conducted by RIVM. It was also shown that it is feasible for the Netherlands to adopt a national reference level for radon in dwellings of 100 Bq per cubic meter. The EURATOM directive 2013/59 compels member states to determine a national reference level for the time-averaged concentration of radon in dwellings. Due to very different local circumstances, radon concentrations vary over a wide range in Europe. Member states may therefore choose their own reference level, as long as it does not exceed 300 Bq per cubic meter. They should also establish a national radon action plan. Under this plan, member states shall promote action to identify dwellings with radon concentrations exceeding the reference level and will encourage, where appropriate by technical or other means, radon concentration-reducing measures in these dwellings. In contrast to many other countries in Europe and elsewhere, radon concentrations in dwellings above 200 Bq per cubic meter are very rare in the Netherlands. As a result, relatively simple and inexpensive measures in existing Dutch dwellings will be sufficient to reduce radon concentrations above the proposed national reference level of 100 Bq per cubic meter to values well below. Radon is a radioactive noble gas that is generated by natural means in soils and in building materials with soil ingredients. From there, it may enter a building. When radioactive decay products from radon are inhaled, they increase the risk of lung cancer. This study was commissioned by the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS).
van Kamp I; Baumann RA; van Wijnen HJ(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2013-07-16)
Research into the health effects of vibrations due to trains is scarce. In order to gain more insight in the character and magnitude of related health complaints and under what conditions these manifest themselves, RIVM has developed a research program. The first results will be available by the end of 2013. These outcomes will be used as building blocks for the decision making process around further extension of existing guidelines for rail related vibrations and the development of an instrument of endorsement by the Ministry for Infrastructure and Environment. In order to do so, a standard for vibration is necessary and for the determination of such a standard a thorough estimation of the magnitude of health effects is a first prerequisite. Estimates of percentage severely disturbed people Based on existing data the preliminary estimated number of people severely annoyed by rail related vibrations varies between 9.400 and 27.000 in the Netherlands, where some 660,000 people live at 150 meter distance from a rail track. Annoyance refers to anger, irritation and unwell-being. Other effects which are associated with vibration from trains pertain to sleepdisturbance, fatigue, taskperfomance, and somatic complaints as headaches, vertigo and high bloodpressure. However a direct relationship of these effects with vibration from trains has not been scientifically established. Knowledge gaps The available data is insufficient to make a thorough estimate of the degree in which these health effects occur. Therefore, a standard can not be deduced as yet. In order to gain more insight future research of RIVM is aimed at the development of a calculation model and a survey among people living along the railway track. Moreover, so called dose response relations will be derived, among others based on data regarding distance to the track, the number of trains and maximum levels of vibration, the ratio between passenger and cargo trains and the type of houses along the track.
Houthuijs DJM; van Beek AJ; Swart WJR; van Kempen EEMM(Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu RIVM, 2014-12-12)
This report describes, on request of the European Commission, the health and well-being implications of road traffic, railway and aircraft noise in Europe. The emphasis is on the description of the methods for health impact assessment of environmental noise. Exposure data for 2012 is available only for a selection of agglomerations, major roads, major railways and major airports and includes only levels above 55 dB Lden and 50 dB Lnight. The methods can be used in a later stage to assess the full impact in the European Union when complete information about the noise exposure distribution for these sources becomes available. At least about 19.8 million adults in Europe are annoyed by noise from road traffic, railways, aircrafts or industry; 9.1 million of them are highly annoyed. It is estimated that 7.9 million adults have sleep disturbance due to night time noise; 3.7 million of them are severely sleep disturbed. The exposure contributes to about 910 thousand additional prevalent cases of hypertension and to 43 thousand hospital admissions per year and about 10 thousand premature deaths per year related to coronary heart disease and stroke. About 90% of the disease burden is related to road traffic noise. These results for 33 European countries (EU28 plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) should be considered provisionally, since they are based on the available data (database of August 2013). In this database the completeness for road traffic noise - the most dominant source - is 36% for major roads and 62% for major agglomerations.
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