Identifying vulnerable groups to transport environmental health factors

The protection and promotion of health covers the physical, mental and social wellbeing and safety of all people, paying particular attention to those groups of the population who are more likely to be harmed by the effects of transport, such as children and women, the elderly, the disabled and those with impaired hearing, as well as to the population most exposed to transport risks such as those living in urban or "sensitive" areas, where pollution and noise are intensified due to geographic and topographic circumstances.

Identify groups, time periods, environments and areas at higher risk of experiencing the adverse health impacts of transport, taking into account criteria to be proposed by WHO, and monitor relevant health impacts among these groups.

Everyone is exposed to some degree of health risk from environmental health factors, but the adverse health effects fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable groups in our societies: people with disabilities or hearing or sight impairments; older people; the socially excluded; children and young people; and people living or working in areas of intensified and cumulative air pollution and noise.

The impacts of transport on health fall disproportionately on certain groups of the population. Some are more vulnerable to traffic risks, due to old or young age, to illness or disability. Others use modes of transport associated with greater risks (e.g. motorcycles). Some are more exposed because the areas they live, work or move in have higher levels of pollutants and noise (e.g. due to the intensifying effect of specific geographical and topographical conditions and settlement characteristics) or other risks, or restrict cycling and walking. Many disbenefits of transport can accumulate in the same communities, often those that already have the poorest socioeconomic and health status.

It is necessary for governments to provide information and develop guidance on transport-related health targets, threshold values and measures regarding populations at higher risk due to: (a) specific vulnerability (children, the elderly or people suffering from diseases, refugees and immigrants); (b) higher exposure levels resulting from geographical and topographical conditions, settlement characteristics, travel and occupation; (c) disability and social disadvantage as a result of lack of access to facilities, disruption of communities and greater exposure to accident risks.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 15: Life on Land