Environmental health addresses traditional environmental risks such as poor water quality, air quality, sanitation and the closely related areas of food safety and hygiene. Increasingly, pollution and solid waste disposal issues are addressed. In the more holistic approaches embraced in recent years, the linkages of safe water supplies to proper waste disposal and pollution control are clearly recognized. Environmental health programmes are designed to respond accordingly. Partnerships among the health and environment sectors - to name the most obvious example - have become essential for real improvements to be expected in the quality of water, food and air.
Climate variability and change is the newest global concern that sits squarely in the realm of environmental health and adds to the complexity of reducing the risks already being faced, especially by the poorer developing countries. Reducing the negative impacts on health from environmental risks brought on by the unknown changes in climate will remain a major challenge especially for the more vulnerable poor and developing countries.
Pacific Island Countries face increasing challenges with respect to safe food and drinking water, clean air and safe human working and living environments. The special circumstances of the Pacific Islands make safe disposal of wastes and protection of communities from pollution essential. Fragile water resources are increasingly tapped to serve the needs of growing populations and industry, including the fast-growing demands of tourism. Where water is consumed wastewater is also generated. If not properly treated, wastewater discharges threaten precious water resources and ocean reefs that sustain both villages and tourism. Solid wastes – including harmful chemicals and health care wastes – also pose challenges for island nations with limited land and few disposal options.