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Health

Our work centers around protecting the public against environmental health hazards. We conduct experimental research and also commission research with the goal of gaining insight into the origin and scope of environmental degradation that could potentially affect human health. These efforts are largely driven by an interdisciplinary approach involving collaboration between experts in the fields of hygiene, medicine, the natural sciences, and epidemiology. These researchers analyze the impact of environmental pollutants on the human body, and in doing so combine this knowledge with data on water, soil and air pollution.

This approach seeks to shed light on the extent to which human beings are affected by environmental contaminants. These experts investigate the health risks entailed by exposure to such contaminants by collaboratively sifting through and evaluating data from the fields of human biomonitoring, environmental medicine, toxicology, and microbiology. A prime example of this interdisciplinary approach are the health issues that arise when people spend time indoors (indoor air quality). Another key issue is the impact of noise on human health. The UBA also works on the following ...

... Development and standardization of assay methodologies for chemical and microbiological contaminants in waterbodies and indoor air, and the related issue of quality assurance.

... Gathering data on and assessing human exposure to chemical, physical and microbiological environmental contaminants.

... Environmental hygiene issues, which are crucially important in built-up areas.

... Health related environmental monitoring through our Kinder-Umwelt-Survey (“Children and the environment survey”) and the human specimen bank

... Bathing water hygiene, including elaboration of a national bathing water report for the EU.

... The health aspects of EU directives concerning air and bathing water quality.

... Guidelines for indoor air quality, together with a health oriented assessment of construction-product emissions.

... International cooperative efforts such as the work of the WHO Collaborating Center for Air Quality Management and Air Pollution Control concerning outdoor and indoor air quality in Europe.

The outcomes of our work find their way into environmental hygiene practice and are constantly used as a basis for the elaboration of various standards and regulations in Germany and elsewhere. The UBA is also actively involved in the Aktionsprogramm Umwelt und Gesundheit (APUG; Environmental and Health Action Program), which is being conducted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Braune Apothekenfläschchen mit Etiketten beschriftet, zum Beispiel Benzin

Volatile organic compounds are partly of natural origin, partly contained in articles of daily use, and can constantly reach our nose and skin. What health effects can VOCs have? How can unwanted exposure be reduced? read more

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Preventing, detecting and cleaning up mould

Eine Hand mit Gummihandschuh versucht Schimmel an einer Wand mit einem Schwamm zu entfernen

Mould infestation is one of the most frequent problems in indoor space. If it is not cleaned up it can trigger or worsen respiratory diseases such as asthma or cause allergic reaction. The re-edited and updated mould manual (in German) from the German Environment Agency (UBA) shows how to deal with mould in the home, including its prevention, detection and clean-up. read more

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Nanomaterial

white aerosol can sprays in front of black background

Nanotechnology deals with the production and application of processes and nanomaterials composed of structurally definable particles on a scale of 100 nanometres (1 nm = 10-9 m) or less in at least one dimension; in other words, more than 1,000 times smaller in diameter than a human hair. At this scale physical and chemical properties of materials change, and this change can be applied in a variet... read more

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Indoor air hygiene

livingroom with armchairs, dining table, carpet, lamps, pictures and potted plants

People in developed countries spend the majority of their lives indoors, on average about two thirds in their home. However, the quality of indoor air is not always beneficial to human health. read more

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Blue Angel ecolabel now available for toys

a child´s hand playing with toys

Toy manufacturers can now apply for the new Blue Angel ecolabel for toys to be awarded to their cuddly toys, wooden train sets, rubber balls etc. Not only must the products be exemplary in terms of pollutant content but also as concerns the social labour conditions of the extraction of raw materials and at the final assembly sites. read more

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Public health in the course of climate change: Master plan for heat waves

Heruntergelassene Jalousien

High temperatures and heat waves are adding up to public health problems – and the impact of climate change is becoming more noticeable also in Germany. The federal states and local authorities can draft and implement heat wave action plans to protect public health. The German Environment Agency (UBA) has developed a master plan in collaboration with many experts from various disciplines.  read more

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The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment