On 5 June 2018, immunisation web pages on the Health Protection Scotland (HPS) website were updated to reflect the most recent quarterly surveillance data on:
World Environment Day this year falls on 5 June 2018. The theme this year is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and is a call for action to combat one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges.
The theme invites people to consider the use of plastic in everyday life and the impact of plastic pollution on the world’s natural places and wildlife. Nearly one-third of plastic packaging used escapes collection systems and each year over 13 million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans. Plastic also makes its way into the water supply system which leads to humans ingesting it.
A social media hashtag, #BeatPlasticPollution, has been created in order for social media users to share ideas.
Source: World Environment Day, 1 June 2018
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a rapid risk assessment looking at the health risks related to communicable diseases for citizens of the EU and the EEA during their stay in Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The public health implications for European countries when travellers return after the event is also examined.
Travellers are advised to ensure that all of their vaccinations are up to date in accordance with the recommended immunisation schedule in their country of residence.
It is particularly important to protect against measles given the ongoing transmission of this virus in Europe.
As with all mass gatherings, attendees will also be at risk from gastrointestinal illnesses and should employ standard hygiene measures to avoid this. Condoms should be used with new or casual sexual partners to decrease the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
There are no concerns about an increased risk of vaccine-preventable disease beyond that which would normally be associated with mass gathering events such as this.
The ECDC recommends that the surveillance put in place for communicable diseases in Russia and EU countries should be sensitive enough to detect threats at an early stage to prevent or reduce the impact of outbreaks.
The ECDC will conduct enhanced epidemic intelligence surveillance for communicable diseases from 7-22 July 2018.
Source: ECDC, 28 May 2018
The European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESAC-Net) has published its fourth annual report on antibiotic use in Europe, covering both community and hospital care.
The report is based on data from the years 2013-2014 in 28 EU countries, and two EEA/non-EU countries (Norway and Iceland).
The European Environment Agency (EEA) annual report on greenhouse gas emissions shows there was a small cut in total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, but a rise in transport emissions.
There was a 0.4% decrease in the total greenhouse gas emissions 2016, compared with 2015.
The agency has also published a briefing on trends and drivers in greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, which explains the drop in emissions is linked to the EU using less coal to produce heat and electricity. Emissions in the industrial and commercial sector increased because of the cold winter in 2016.
Other key findings include:
- The 0.4% decrease in EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2016 occurred while the EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 2.0%. Emissions are expected to decrease further as GDP per capita increases, showing that a growing economy and addressing climate change can go hand in hand.
- The UK and Spain accounted for the largest decreases of greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms in the EU in 2016. Reductions in those countries were largely because of lower consumption of solid fuels (mainly coal) in the power sector.
- There was a relatively large increase in emissions in Poland, particularly in the road transport sector.
- Emissions covered by the EU emissions trading system (ETS) decreased in 2016, in particular for the energy supply sector (mostly electricity and heat production) and industry (mostly iron and steel). The decrease in the power sector was the result of a sharp decline in coal consumption.
- Based on Eurostat data, there was a decline in nuclear electricity generation. This was more than offset by the increase in the use of renewable energy sources.
- Compared with 1990, the EU economy uses less energy, and does so more efficiently, and with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Improved energy efficiency will continue to play a key role in cutting future emissions but further efforts will also be needed to achieve the EU’s joint 40% reduction target by 2030.
Source: EEA, 6 May 2018
The latest annual European bathing water quality report, published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and European Commission (EC), shows that despite a slight drop in results, 85% of swimming sites across Europe monitored in 2017 met the EU’s highest and most stringent ‘excellent’ quality standards for waters mostly-free from pollutants.
Nearly all 21,801 swimming sites monitored last year, of which 21,509 were in the 28 EU member states (95.9%), met the minimum quality requirements under EU rules.
Overall there was small drop in the number of ‘excellent’ swimming areas from 85.5% in 2016 to 85% in 2017, similarly those meeting ‘sufficient’ standard fell from 96.3% to 96%.
The number of overall ‘poor’ sites remained largely unchanged from 2016 across the EU, Albania and Switzerland, dropping from 1.5% in 2016 to 1.4% in 2017.
The results give a good indication where holiday makers can find the best quality bathing waters this summer.
The agency has released an updated interactive map showing the performance of each bathing site, as well as updated country reports which contain more information on the directive.
Source: EEA, 30 May 2018
Environmental pressures caused by heavy metal emissions from Europe’s large industrial facilities have decreased from 2010-2016, according to a new briefing covering data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR).
The briefing shows that emissions of eight key heavy metals, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc from Europe’s large industrial facilities, show a rapid decline in their associated environmental pressures.
From 2010 to 2016, environmental pressure caused by industrial emissions in air decreased by 39%, while pressures caused by water decreased by 34%.
Reducing concentrations of heavy metals in air, water and soil is important because of the potential harm these substances can cause to people and eco-systems. Harmful effects of heavy metals include disruption of nutrient cycles in plants and causing development and reproduction disorders in animals and humans.
Source: EEA, 25 May 2018
Scottish recycling, composting and re-use of waste from all sources has exceeded 60% for the first time according to official statistics published on 29 May 2018 by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
In 2016, 6.96 million tonnes (61%) of waste was recycled, composted or prepared for re-use, over 500,000 tonnes more than in 2015. 2016 also saw more households and businesses recycle food waste as 605,614 tonnes of organic wastes was recycled in composting or anaerobic digestion facilities, an increase of 102,580 tonnes (20.4%) from 2015 statistics and a 78.1% boost since 2011.
Total waste generated in Scotland fell 530,000 tonnes since 2015, with Scotland achieving the lowest quantity of waste reaching landfill since 2011, a 10.3% decrease from 2015.
Further information on recycling policy and targets can found in the Scottish Government’s report ‘Making things last – a circular economy’.
Source: SEPA, 29 May 2018
The operator of a Strathblane landfill site was fined £37,000 at Stirling Sheriff Court on 8 May 2018, after landfilling inappropriate waste at their site for over two and a half years. A Cumbernauld-based waste management company was also fined £12,000 for failing in its duty of care.
Muirhouse Landfill Limited pled guilty to two charges of failing to comply with six different conditions of their permit, one of which was that the site could only be used for landfilling inert waste.
Dow Waste Management Limited (which recently changed its name to Dow Group Limited) pled guilty to failing to properly describe their waste when completing waste transfer notes, and failing to have a system in place to identify problems.
The latest figures mean a new total of six SEPA led waste crime prosecutions in the last 12 months resulting in £120,000 fines, £47,211 in confiscation orders and five community payback orders totalling 1,150 hours.
Source: SEPA, 30 May 2018