People's lives are strongly affected by the healthiness of their physical environment. The impact of pollutants, hazardous substances and noise on people's health is sizeable. Environmental quality also matters intrinsically, as most people value the beauty and healthiness of the place where they live, and care about the degradation of the planet and the depletion of its natural resources. Preserving environmental and natural resources is also one of the most important challenges for ensuring the sustainability of well‐being over time. This chapter shows that in OECD countries the concentrations of particulate matters in the air have dropped in the last twenty years, although in many countries they remain above target levels. People in other major economies, in addition to being exposed to high pollutant concentrations, often lack access to basic environmental services such as safe drinking water and sanitation. For the world as a whole, around one‐fourth of the total burden of disease, or 13 million premature deaths, could be prevented every year through environmental improvements. Environmental policies have a critical role to play in dealing with global health priorities and in improving people's lives.
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Document Type: Review Article
Publication date: 01 October 2011