International Scientists Seek Solutions for Environmental Problems
Almost 13 million people die each year from preventable environmental causes. Importantly, 25% of all deaths in children under the age of 5 are due to environmental causes (WHO Report 2018). The University of Agriculture in Kraków celebrates innovative solutions to environmental challenges and invests in collaborative efforts to improve the health of cities throughout the world. Over the past five days, 10th-14th June, Krakow has been the host city for nearly 200 scientists from 18 different countries who have been engaging in discussions to address health and environmental issues as participants at the Central and Eastern European Conference on Health and the Environment (CEECHE).
Established in 1994 by an initiative of the United States and European institutions, CEECHE has brought Central and Eastern European countries together to facilitate scientific exchange; to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary work on protecting human and environmental health; and to provide solutions to improve environmental health. This meeting represents the first time CEECHE has been held in Poland. The selection of Poland as a host country was not coincidental. Due to geographic location and fuel emissions, poor air quality in Kraków is an ongoing environmental challenge. However, Kraków is actively striving to address these challenges and is passionate about finding solutions. The University of Agriculture in Kraków organized the meeting by building on the momentum of its Green Smart City Forums. The US Academic Partner of this meeting was Louisiana State University and LSU Superfund Research Center
Rektor of the University of Agriculture in Kraków Professor Włodzimierz Sady welcomed conference participants by saying: “We have to realize that in this case money is not the most important. The lives and health of future generations are at stake, including over 150 thousand students in Krakow.” US Consul General Walter Braunohler emphasized the importance of collaboration: “The scientists in this room fully understand the value of collaboration. By working together, we accomplish much more than we can separately, especially when addressing complex, difficult environmental challenges.” Dr. William Suk, with the United States National Institutes of Health, strongly supports the world-wide collaborative research efforts of this conference, and especially the training of the next generation of students. He commented: “the training that occurs through international meetings by trainees and junior faculty, engaging and learning from each other, is critical in solving complex environmental health problems.” Prof. Stephanie Cormier director of LSU Superfund Research Center expressed her concerns that: “Current sampling methods for particulate do not adequately reflect human exposures or explain health effects. We need to enhance monitoring practices to include more complex mixtures such as the recently realized environmentally persistent free radicals associated with particulate matter”.
During CEECHE 2018, scientists presented data demonstrating significant environmental health impacts, including infertility, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, increased mortality associated with infections from environmental exposures. Other scientists presented innovative ways to combat pollution, including scientists from the University of Agriculture in Krakow who presented effective planting and management of urban greens areas as an important feature of healthy cities.
CEECHE 2018 was chaired by Prof. Stanisław Gawroński, Warsaw University of Life Sciences and Prof. Slawomir Lomnicki Louisiana State University (USA). The host committee was chaired by Prof. Stanisław Małek of University of Agriculture in Krakow. The conference program was chaired by Prof. Florian Gambuś, University of Agriculture in Krakow and Prof. Kelly G. Pennell, University of Kentucky (USA). Prof. Bernhard Hennig, director of the University of Kentucky Superfund Research Center (USA), and a member of the conference committee, will oversee the publication of several presentations in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. For more information about CEECHE 2018, visit the conference website: https://ceeche2018.urk.edu.pl/about.html.