Last changed: 6/10/11
Growth in the economy and transport is increasing the burden on the environment, for example by increasing consumption of energy and resources. This in turn is causing significant change to the environment in its chemical and biological composition. The changing quality of water, soil or air can have significant negative consequences for both human health and nature.
Division II combines environmental and public health issues. The base is among other things the "Action Programme Environment and Health" initiated by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Security and the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.
The work of Division II is guided by the model of sustainable development, where maintaining the natural foundations for life is taken as the standard against which human activity is judged, and environmental quality targets to guarantee functioning ecosystems. The goal is to protect people´s health and an environment worth living in.
This complex and difficult task is carried out by closely linking experimental research and scientific administration. Some milestones on the road to a solution include:
To decide if action is necessary and what action should be taken to protect against environmental damage or damage from a polluted or otherwise altered environment, the situation must be known in detail. Observing the state of our environment and human health is therefore an essential precondition for sound environmental protection.
In part, Division II gains the necessary information by conducting own experiment al work, such as surveys at the national level (Environmental Specimen Bank for environmental and human-organ Specimens) or the air monitoring network. Also important is intensive information exchange with institutions in the Länder and with scientific bodies. One key outcome of the long-term observation of the state of the environment is that trends can be discovered that allow conclusions to be drawn about the success or failure of environmental policies.
The data are not only useful at the national level. Division II also passes its results on to organisations acting at European level and worldwide.
Assessing the state of the environment requires suitable standards. Division II develops such standards, principally environmental quality targets and assessment concepts. This work also incorporates comparative risk assessment.
The Federal Environment Agency is supported by various commissions and advisory councils composed of researchers and practitioners.
Monitoring the state of the environment and human health and setting environmental quality or action targets provides the basis for the measures or instruments proposed by other Divisions. The common goal is protection of human health and the environment. The proposed measures range from recommendations to manufacturers and consumers to preparing legal regulations.
The increase in Europe-wide regulations and international agreements mean that experts must bring their knowledge to bear, in order to communicate internationally the protection level reached in Germany and the well-established strategies for the protection of human health and the environment. Experts in Division II therefore participate in numerous international committees. The close cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) is demonstrated by the Division´s two WHO collaborating centres for Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Control and for Research on Drinking Water Hygiene.