Health and Environment are two major issues of our time. As European citizens spend around 90% of their life in confined spaces, indoor environment and more particularly, indoor air represent exposures with a great potential impact on their health. That is why the European Union has been paying a growing attention to the issue and is committed to identify reliable and feasible policies. Despite the fact that indoor air can to some extent be seen as a consumer or private issue, its effects on health were recently recognized to request the definition of public policies namely at the European level.

> Objectives and Approach of EnVIE

It is the objective of the EnVIE project to increase the understanding of the Europe-wide public health impacts of indoor air quality. The project will identify the most widespread and significant indoor causes for these health impacts, and evaluate the existing and optional building and housing related policies for controlling them.  It will address in particular how indoor air quality might contribute to the observed rise in asthma and respiratory allergy, together with other acute and chronic health impacts. The project does not intend to conduct new experimental or field research, but rather to build on the broad scientific experience, as well as the literature of reports and articles which have accumulated in the domestic and international indoor air research projects as well as the EU, WHO, ISIAQ and CIB committees and expert groups during the past 20 years.

Many previous indoor air quality and policy assessments have taken specific contaminants or indoor sources as the starting points. The logic behind is the flow of molecules from sources via environment to exposure, dose and the consequent health outcome. EnVIE follows an opposite logic, starting from the most pronounced indoor air related health outcomes (which may have also other sources and causes), then identifying the most widespread indoor air exposures which are likely to cause these health outcomes, and the most common sources which dominate the indoor air exposures – see Figure. The 1st objective of this approach is to focus from the start on those indoor air quality issues of the highest Europe-wide health relevance. Having defined a shortlist of such indoor source-exposure-health chains, the project will evaluate the policy alternatives for minimising the unwanted health consequences in terms of achievable public health benefits, invasiveness, as well as political, legal, technological, economical and social feasibility. The 2nd objective is to identify and describe a set of highly beneficial and feasible indoor air quality policy alternatives for Europe. Europe wide applicability brings the benefits of enhanced competition in a broader marketplace.

Different colors clear levelstrong levelmean different levels of impact.
Out of EnVIE scopeOut of EnVIE scope

EnVIE introduces what can be called the “EnVIE Method” on how to approach the relationship causes vs effects and its consequence on drawing strategies and policies.
For the last decades the focus was on following the sequence cause - effect trying to identify substances in the air and qualify and quantify their concentration according to their toxicity.
Meanwhile it was realized that, basically because of the lack of toxicological information and the enormous number of pollutants, the relationship cause vs effects was showing to be quite difficult.
The EnVIE method starts from the health effects to the exposure and sources.

Identify the most important health effects caused by indoor air contaminants in Europe
Identify the exposures causing such effects
Identify the sources generating such exposure
Provide a strategy to EU to manage the population risk (policy making)

> EnVIE Activities and Products

The EnVIE project will be centred on two EnVIE Conferences.

The 1st EnVIE Conference (Helsinki, 11-12 June 2007) covered the selected issues from health outcomes, via exposures to sources (see EnVIE flowchart).
The 2nd EnVIE Conference will focus on alternative source control policies, evaluating the achievable exposure and health impact gains, as well as the other requirements and consequences of these alternatives.
In the EnVIE Workshops the WPs will, on the one hand create the detailed programmes for the EnVIE Conferences, and on the other hand critically evaluate and edit their results.
The quality of the working process will be assured by:
  • careful planning by the EnVIE steering committee;
  • well instructed preparation by the conference presentation authors; and,
  • critical revision and edition by the EnVIE WPs.

The EnVIE Final Report will consist of the edited EnVIE Conferences proceedings complemented with a general introduction and an executive summary, which will also include the general recommendations on indoor air health related policies.