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close this bookAssessing the Health Consequences of Major Chemical Incidents - Epidemiological Approaches, 1992 (WHO - OMS, 1992, 104 p.)
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View the documentForeword
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Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction: definition and health effects of chemical incidents
Open this folder and view contents1. Role of epidemiology in assessing health effects following a major chemical incident
Open this folder and view contents2. Epidemiological tools
Open this folder and view contents3. Supportive action
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Open this folder and view contentsAnnex: summaries of selected incidents
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Chemical incidents can have serious and widespread effects on health. Epidemiology is an important tool for evaluating these effects and thus supplying information on which to base action to deal with a current incident and to help prepare for future ones. Such action helps to create environments conducive to health, which is one of the primary goals of the WHO European strategy for health for all.

Epidemiologists can make a valuable contribution to each phase of a chemical incident: preparedness, response and follow-up. Recognizing this, the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health convened a working group to discuss and set out some of the most effective epidemiological approaches to chemical incidents. This book is the result of the group’s work.

This publication aims to promote awareness of the role of epidemiology in the management of chemical incidents. It identifies the special part that epidemiology can play in a coordinated multidisciplinary response to a chemical incident, the tools to use in health risk assessment and roles in supportive activities such as training and the dissemination of information. The book supports and illustrates its arguments with examples showing the contributions of epidemiology to the management of four major incidents in Europe: the fire at Schweizerhalle, the Seveso accident. the grounding of an oil tanker in Scotland and the toxic oil syndrome in Spain.

Realizing the potential contribution of epidemiology to the management of chemical incidents is an important step in creating an effective multidisciplinary response. Such a response could help to protect health by offering better assistance to people exposed to current incidents and improving preparedness for future events.

J.E. Asvall
WHO Regional Director for Europe