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Leefmilieu-Gezondheid België

Major environmental constraints and related diseases

Research into the connections between environmental determinants and health reveal correlations between a given determinant and a particular pathology. These correlations offer tools to public and political authorities responsible for health and the environment.


Following on from this process, NEHAP revised the environmental factors which have a direct effect on the most serious illnesses. Among these pathologies, NEHAP distinguishes three main groups:

  • Illnesses of the circulatory organs (primary cause of mortality in Belgium): exposure to carbon monoxide (CO), and to a lesser extent, noise-related stress and atmospheric pollutants negatively influence the cardiovascular system.
  • Cancers (second cause of mortality in Belgium): several environmental determinants increase the risk of cancer. They are essentially related to foods (e.g. cadmium, PCBs, etc.), the air (e.g. pesticides, smoking, arsenic, asbestos, etc.) and ionising or non-ionising radiation.
  • Respiratory diseases: tobacco, indoor and outdoor pollution of homes and exposure at the workplace contribute to the triggering of these often chronic diseases. The principal related pollutants include: suspended particles, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, tropospheric ozone, etc.