List of Digests

A GreenFacts Digest is a faithful summary of an authoritative scientific consensus report on an environmental or health topic. It has been peer-reviewed and published under the authority of the GreenFacts Scientific Board of independent experts.

Agriculture home

Agriculture is closely linked to many concerns, including biodiversity loss, global warming and water availability.

The 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) focuses on how to make better use of agricultural science, knowledge and technology to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and foster equitable and sustainable development. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

AIDS home

In just 25 years, HIV has spread relentlessly to virtually every country in the world, infecting 65 million people and killing 25 million. What has been done since 2001 and what can be done in the future to halt the spread of AIDS? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Nitrogen Dioxide home

In Europe, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollutes the air mainly as a result of road traffic and energy production. Apart from giving rise to acid rain and other air pollutants, current levels of NO2 may affect our health. How and to what extent? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Ozone home

In the high layers of the atmosphere, Ozone acts as a protective sunscreen that shields us from the high levels of UV radiation coming from the sun. At ground-level, however, it can be harmful to plants, animals, and humans. How are we exposed to ozone and how harmful can it be? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Particulate Matter home

Air can be contaminated by particles such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Many of them can harm our health, especially very small particles that can enter deep into the lungs. What is known about the different health effects of particles? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Alcohol home

Alcohol is linked with connotations of pleasure and sociability in the minds of many, but its use also has harmful consequences. What are the impacts of alcohol consumption on human health and society? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Arctic Climate Change home

In 2005, the international project Arctic Climate Impact Assessment was completed by the Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC).

Arctic climate is now warming rapidly and much larger changes are foreseen.

How had the climate changed in the Arctic so far, and what future changes are expected? How will arctic climate change affect the rest of the planet? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Arsenic home

Arsenic is a poisonous substance, which is released both from certain human activities and naturally from the earth's crust. Humans may be exposed to arsenic mainly through food and water. To what extent can arsenic exposure affect human health or the environment? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Aspartame home

Aspartame is a non caloric sweetener used in some diet soft drinks and food preparations. Many studies have assessed the safety of asparame, but some allegations of health risks have launched a debate. Does this artificial sweetener pose health risks? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Biodiversity (MA) home

Biodiversity contributes to many aspects of human well-being, for instance by providing raw materials and contributing to health. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment shows that human actions often lead to irreversible losses in terms of diversity of life on Earth. What factors are responsible for this rapid loss? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Biodiversity (CBD) home

In 2002, the Convention on Biological Diversity set the target of reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and established a number of biodiversity indicators to assess progress towards meeting that target. Can this target be reached? What actions are needed? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Boron home

Boron is a naturally occurring element used in products such as fibreglass, detergents, agricultural fertilizers and herbicides. Could it affect my health? Under what conditions could it be beneficial or harmful to the environment? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Chernobyl home

Some 20 years ago, the most serious accident in nuclear history changed the lives of many. The greatest contamination occurred in areas that are now part of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.
The UN Chernobyl Forum assessed how this region has been affected by the accident and how it has coped. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Climate Change (2001) home

In 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessed the state of knowledge in its groundbreaking Third Assessment report (TAR).

What was already known in 2001? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr

Climate Change (2007) home

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reassessed the state of knowledge in its 4th assessment report (4AR).

Clearly, the Earth’s warming is already having measurable consequences and future impacts are expected to be wide-ranging and costly.

How can we adapt to those changes? Is it possible to limit the extent of climate change and its impacts through mitigation efforts? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Climate Change (2013) home

"Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis" is a comprehensive assessment of the physical aspects of climate change, which puts a focus on the elements that are relevant to understand past, document current, and project future climate change. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

CO2 Capture & Storage home

One possible option for reducing CO2 emissions is to store it underground. This technique is called Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS).

How does it work? Could it really help addressing climate change?

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides answers in a special report. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Phthalates Comparison home

The aim of this peer reviewed comparison is to put in perspective the potential dangers and risks of four phthalates used mainly as plasticizers in PVC applications and help the non specialist reader to make its opinion in these matters. More...

Summary available in [en] [fr

Desertification home

Desertification, the persistent degradation of drylands, threatens many livelihoods.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) produced in 2005 by a large international panel of scientists explored possible options to avoid or reverse desertification and its negative impacts. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Diet & Nutrition home

The way we eat and live may put us at risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dental disease, and osteoporosis. How can a healthier diet and physical activity help reduce the risk? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr

DEHP home

Diethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) is a widely used plastic additive.

Its widespread use in everyday and medical products has raised some concerns about its safety. Does it pose a risk to health or the environment? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Dioxins home

Dioxins are mainly released by human activities such as incineration and fuel combustion. Some dioxins and some "dioxin-like" PCBs are known to be harmful. In 2008, the facts summarised by GreenFacts are still considered a valid reference. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Tuberculosis home

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease affecting a growing number of people around the world. Usually treatable, some forms of the disease have emerged that do not respond to drugs, making it very difficult to treat. What are the trends in drug-resistant tuberculosis and what must be done to control it? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Ecosystem Change home

Humans depend heavily on ecosystem for benefits such as food, but we also have a tremendous impact on them.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) produced in 2005 by a large international panel of scientists explored possible options to avoid or reverse desertification and its negative impacts. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Endocrine Disruptors home

Some chemicals, both natural and man-made, can interfere with the hormonal system.

Have endocrine disruptors affected wild life and our hormonal system? How much is known so far? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr

Energy Technologies home

The growing use of energy that underlies current economic growth puts unsustainable pressure on natural resources and on the environment.

What options do we have for switching to a cleaner and more efficient energy future? How much will it cost? And what policies could achieve this? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Fisheries home

The UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) regularly assesses the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. The key findings of its latest assessment were released in 2009.

Indeed, many fish stocks are being overexploited, and the international nature of the resources makes them difficult to manage. Is the current food supply in danger? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Fluoride home

Food and drinking water typically contain at least small amounts of fluorides. Fluorides are commonly added to dental products – and sometimes to tap water – to prevent cavities. Under what conditions can fluoride exposure be beneficial or detrimental to human health? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Forests home

Forests provide a wide range of benefits and are heavily exploited.

Every 5 years the UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) updates its Global Forest Resources Assessment.

Its latest update published in 2006 considers what progress has been made towards sustainable forest management across the world. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Forests & Energy home

In coming years, the world’s energy consumption is expected to increase dramatically. While fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy, renewable energies will also gain importance. Could biofuels derived from forests help meet the energy demand? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Genetically Modified Crops home

We are regularly confronted with genetically modified foods, be it in the news or on our plates. In what way are GM crops different from conventional crops? What is known about the possible risks for human health or the environment? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Global Public Health Threats home

With the increase in plane traffic, contagious illnesses spread farther and faster than ever. Some diseases, such as tuberculosis are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Old enemies like polio refuse to go away. Others like smallpox which have been eradicated threaten a devastating comeback if released. These and other threats are explored by the World Health Report – A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Biofuels home

Serious questions are being raised about the environmental impacts of producing liquid biofuels for transport, the costs of policies to promote them and their possible unintended consequences.

What could be the future role of biofuels for agriculture, food security and climate change? More...

Summary available in [de] [en] [nl

Malaria home

Malaria is one of the most common infectious diseases and a great public health problem worldwide. What is being done to control its spread?

Can malaria be eradicated? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Marine Litter home

The global production of plastics is increasing, and that increase is accompanied by an increase in plastic waste.

Part of this waste makes its way into the marine environment in the form of micro-plastics. What do we know about the extent of this problem? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Mercury home

Mercury is a heavy metal which is known to be highly toxic. Though mercury occurs naturally in the environment it is now mainly released by human activities. Are humans and the environment at risk? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

PCBs home

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely used in the past, mainly in electrical equipment. Because these compounds are generally very stable, they remain present in the environment today. What are the health risks associated with PCBs? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

DBP home

DBP is mainly used in PVC and other plastics. Other applications besides inks, paints and adhesives, include nail polish, perfumes, sealants, and lubricants.
Main conclusions: At some industrial sites, exposure of workers and emissions to air should be reduced More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr


DIDP and DINP are two very similar phthalates. They are mainly used in PVC and other plastics, but also in some inks, paints and adhesives.
Main conclusions: DIDP in toys may pose a risk; more research may be needed on the environmental effects of DIDP and DINP. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Power lines home

Overhead power lines, wiring in buildings and electrical appliances generate "Extremely Low Frequency" (ELF) electromagnetic fields.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer assessed whether such ELF fields cause cancer, leukaemia or other health effects. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Psychoactive Drugs home

Psychoactive drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin can change consciousness, mood, and thoughts. How do they affect the brain? How does drug addiction develop and how can it be treated? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl

Respiratory Diseases home

Asthma and allergies are increasing in many European countries. Can genetic and environmental factors affect a child's likelihood to develop such diseases? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Static Fields home

Some electrical equipment, such as medical MRI scanners, trains, and television sets, can generate static magnetic or electric fields.
The World Health Organisation assessed what is currently known about their potential health effects? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Tobacco home

Over one thousand million people worldwide smoke tobacco. Harmful effects of tobacco on smokers are increasingly known. Are passive smokers also at risk? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Water Disinfectants home

To protect drinking water against germs and fight disease transmitted through water, disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramines, ozone and chlorine dioxide are used.

Unwanted by-products can be formed, which raise health concerns. More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr

Water Resources home

Water is essential for human survival and well-being and important to many sectors of the economy. Yet, resources are unevenly distributed and they are under pressure due to human activity. How can water resources be managed sustainably while meeting an ever increasing demand? More...

Summary available in [en] [es] [fr] [nl