The Environment Key Area proposes to use the Health of the Nation alliance approach to mobilise individuals and groups to work together to improve environmental health. It suggests focusing on five target areas: indoor and outdoor air quality, radon, noise pollution, and lead in drinking water.
Announcing the consultation, Mr Gummer said: 'An Environment Key Area will be an important next step for the Health of the Nation Strategy. It is the first new new key area to be proposed for inclusion in the strategy since its launch in 1992 - and the first proposed to be managed by a department other than the department of health.
'Now is the time for the public, and healthcare, professional and voluntary groups to tell us whether we have picked the right elements for a key area and the right targets for us to achieve together.
'The consultation document sets out ideas for actions and alliances to promote environmental health, as well as targets. It will offer opportunities to harness the efforts of organisations and individuals across the country to improve environmental health.'
Welcoming publication of the document, Chief Medical Officer Sir Kenneth Calman said: 'The aim of the Health of the Nation strategy is to add years to life and life to years and to achieve a continuing improvement in the general health of the population of England. The emphasis of the strategy is on prevention and health promotion. I firmly believe that the effects of the environment on health are sufficient to justify its inclusion as a Key Area.
'I welcome the opportunity for public debate this consultation will bring, as well as the opportunities for new partnerships which I hope will develop from this. As part of the consultation process, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, and the Institute for Environment and Health, will be holding regional workshops, which I am sure will provide an effective means of promoting the debate.'
The consultation period closes on 11 February 1997.