Environmental justice in industrially contaminated sites. A review of scientific evidence in the WHO european region

Roberto Pasetto, Benedetta Mattioli, Daniela Marsili

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the WHO European Region the topic of contaminated sites is considered a priority among environment and health themes. Communities living in or close to contaminated sites tend to be characterized by a high prevalence of ethnic minorities and by an unfavorable socioeconomic status so rising issues of environmental justice. A structured review was undertaken to describe the contents of original scientific studies analyzing distributive and procedural justice in industrially contaminated sites carried out in the WHO European Region in the period 2010–2017. A systematic search of the literature was performed. In total, 14 articles were identified. Wherever assessments on environmental inequalities were carried out, an overburden of socioeconomic deprivation or vulnerability, with very few exemptions, was observed. The combined effects of environmental and socioeconomic pressures on health were rarely addressed. Results show that the studies on environmental and health inequalities and mechanisms of their generation in areas affected by industrially contaminated sites in the WHO European Region are in their early stages, with exemption of UK. Future efforts should be directed to improve study strategies with national and local assessments in order to provide evidence for equity-oriented interventions to reduce environmental exposure and related health risks caused by industrial contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number998
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2019


  • Contaminated sites
  • Disadvantaged groups
  • Distributive justice
  • Environmental justice
  • Industrially contaminated sites
  • Industries
  • Inequalities
  • Inequities
  • Procedural justice
  • Social capital
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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