The scope of environmental health is so broad that a structured breakdown into manageable topics will be necessary. The Environmental Health Action Plan for Europe provides a breakdown with four broad categories: environmental health management tools; specific environmental hazards; living and working environments; and economic sectors. The breakdown into specific environmental hazards is sometimes called a vertical categorisation in contrast with a horizontal categorisation by economic sectors. The two breakdowns each have their own uses, advantages and disadvantages, and are likely to appeal to different interests. This is likely to be true for any other way of splitting environmental health into manageable topics.
The priority environment and health issues identified at the Second European Conference on Environment and Health in Helsinki in June 1994 include food and water safety, ambient and indoor air quality, the risk of accidents, human settlements, occupational health and the consequences of armed hostilities. The Declaration on Action for Environment and Health in Europe, endorsed by ministers in Helsinki, outlined these priority areas further; contaminated food and water; ambient and indoor air pollution; urban health; ecology and health; the consequences of armed hostilities; occupational health; and death and injuries from all forms of accident, including nuclear emergencies.