Environmental Priorities and Health: Socially Vulnerable Territories and Population Groups
Communities are experiencing environment-related health effects amid a severe socioeconomic and demographic situation characterized by a high sickness rate. The life span in Russia was growing in 1995—1999 and reducing in 1999—2003. Since 2004, the situation has somewhat changed for the better. In spite of this positive trend, the consequences of life span reduction that was observed from the 1980s on have not been overcome yet.
Over the last 20 years, Europe has witnessed a considerable improvement in the quality of the atmospheric air and surface water sources as well as a stronger oversight over alimentary raw materials and food staffs. Therefore, new risk factors, such as indoor air quality, social inequality, and climate warming, have been placed on the agenda. Russia essentially lacks definitive epidemiological research on the estimation of a combined effect of social and environmental factors on public health, but comparative analysis of statistical data allows one to derive some definite conclusions.
One of currently important problems is to assess the detrimental environ-mental impact on public health with social inequality taken into consideration. Today, information about the level of unemployment, personal income, poverty, and GDP compiled in compliance with international standards is available at the regional level, but it is difficult to obtain relevant data for certain cities and towns. At the same time, there are just a few epidemiological research papers that estimate a combined effect of social and environmental factors. It is necessary to develop a special program to protect the health of socially vulnerable population groups living in highly polluted areas.
Institute of Economic Forecasting, Russian Academy of Sciences