Cypriot medical schools and Harvard School of Public Health discuss climate and environmental health risks in Cyprus

The Medical School of the University of Cyprus, in collaboration with the University of Nicosia Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, had the opportunity to discuss emerging climate and environmental health risks in Cyprus, during a scientific event organised on Wednesday, at Shacolas Educational Centre for Clinical Medicine in Nicosia.

As noted in a University of Cyprus press release, Cyprus, among all the member states of the European Union, is a country with unique environmental exposures since the country and the Eastern Mediterranean region in general is one of the climate change hotspots of the globe, experiencing the most adverse impacts of global warming with the fastest increase in mean temperature, reduced precipitation and desertification, which results in new, emerging risks for the health of the whole population and especially the health of vulnerable patient groups in the country.

It is added that in the last 15 years academic institutions in Cyprus have started to develop human capacity and research interests in the field of Environmental Health, while in parallel the national regulatory authorities have strengthened considerably their capacity and monitoring networks and started to produce good series of data in the fields of air quality, ambient radiation, meteorology, coded health outcomes and surveillance statistics.

The richness and value of these datasets can only be maximised, the press release continues, if the collected environmental data are analysed together with health data using appropriate scientific methodologies to draw conclusions that may inform public health policies and interventions.

It is also noted that the scientific event was based on the first outputs of an initiative between the environmental health teams of the Universities of Cyprus and Nicosia and the Harvard School of Public Health that aimed to proceed quickly to deliver high-quality statistical analysis of available large datasets over a short period of time.

During the scientific event, the press release continues, researchers aimed to examine the excess mortality that is caused by extreme low and high temperatures in Cyprus, assess association between exposure to increasing ambient temperature during pregnancy and birthweight of term new-born babies in Cyprus, examine which specific constituents of PM (like Cu, Ca, Fe, Cr, Mg, and EC) are strongly associated with cardiorespiratory hospitalizations in Cyprus and look into the particle TSP a- and ß- radioactivity levels during desert dust events that apparently is higher when dust originated from Arabian deserts than from Saharan desert.

Moreover, researchers aimed to look to the sources of indoor residential and outdoor PM2.5 and PM10 in Cyprus, and examine when behavioural and filtration equipment interventions to reduce indoor particle concentrations are most effective, as well as to examine associations of demographic, socioeconomic, health, environmental and stringent control measurements with excess mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scientists involved aim to continue this initiative producing high quality analyses and scientific papers and become the forefront laboratory of Europe in the field of environmental health in relation to climate change and other extreme environmental exposures, the press release concludes.

Source: Cyprus News Agency