Press Release

Tim O´Malley T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children launches the Environmental Health Officers Association Yearbook 2003

Today, Friday 11 April 2003, Minister O´Malley launched the twentieth successive edition of the Environmental Health Officers Association Yearbook. The launch took place in Ennis and was the first time for the yearbook to be launched outside of Dublin.

Minister O´Malley referred to the wide range of environmental health and food safety topics covered by the Yearbook. He said “The broad range of topics addressed in the Yearbook identifies the multi-facets to the environmental health profession.” The Minister stated that papers ranging from ´Training with the National Hygiene Partnership´, ´Prevalence of Sick Building Syndrome in Three Office Buildings´, and ´Noise in Dublin´ highlight the importance of environmental health in improving the health status of the population. The Minister noted with particular interest the proceedings of the fifth research conference on environmental health protection and safety. He said “Research is vital in developing the capacity to identify and effectively respond to newly emerging hazards and to provide the evidence base for best practice in environmental health management.”

The Minister spoke of the impact of environmental factors, including ambient and indoor air pollution, on the health of the population. With regard to environmental tobacco smoke he said “Almost 7000 deaths each year are due to smoking related illnesses such as heart disease, a variety of cancers and respiratory diseases.” He said that environmental tobacco smoke is now classified as a Class A carcinogen and that there is an international scientific consensus that secondhand smoke causes disease and death. Minister O´Malley stated that his colleague Minister Martin is proceeding with a package of measures to control and reduce the consumption of tobacco products. He said “You will be aware that draft regulations which will prohibit smoking in places of work from 1 January 2004 have been published.” The primary purpose of the prohibition is to protect the health and safety of workers and the public from toxic environmental tobacco smoke.

Minister O´Malley stated that, as Minister of State with responsibility for food safety, he is particularly interested in developments in food control and he was pleased to note that a number of articles dealing with such issues are included in the Yearbook. He said “Managing the food chain so that the public has access to safe food requires an effective food safety programme which sets the strategic direction for food control activities.” He said that the establishment of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland in 1999 and the introduction of the service contract mechanism have ensured a co-ordinated multi-disciplinary inspection service through the food chain. The Minister also stated that the signing of the new service contracts earlier this year was a further milestone in the development of an effective food safety programme.