“Risk assessment is a highly complex activity, as is reducing these same risks. Simple solutions just do not work well in complex risk problems. Supporting policy makers and stakeholders in the use of scientific knowledge in order to find the action perspectives, that’s what my work is all about.”
Erik Lebret studied environmental sciences at Wageningen Agricultural College, now called Wageningen UR. He then obtained his doctorate in the subject of air pollution in Dutch homes (1985, Wageningen Agricultural College). After receiving his PhD he acted as visiting research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health with a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
In 1987 he started working for RIVM, where he carried out research into health effects of air pollution/smog episodes. He was actively involved in the creation of the report "Zorgen voor Morgen" (Concern for Tomorrow) (1988), the subsequent Environmental Outlooks, and the European equivalent "Concern for Europe’s Tomorrow" (1994). He initiated the Health Impact Assessment Schiphol Airport by order of the Ministries of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment; Health, Welfare and Sport; and Transport, Public Works and Water Management. He was member of the Steering committee Health monitoring and follow-up of victims of the Firework Disaster Enschede.
Erik Lebret was principal investigator for various European research projects (EU Framework Programmes) and team leader of a consortium that carried out research into the effects of air pollution on the respiratory systems in children in six Central and Eastern European countries.
In addition to his work at RIVM, he regularly participates in national and international expert and advisory committees for the Health Council of the Netherlands, the World Health Organisation and several foreign expert committees, as well as several committees at the US EPA. He was President of the International Society of Exposure Sciences (ISES) and Associate Editor of the Journal of Exposure Sciences and Environmental Epidemiology.
In 1997 he became Head of the Laboratory for Exposure Research (Laboratorium voor Blootstellingsonderzoek), from which the Centre for Environmental Health Research originated. After ten years of line management he resigned as Head of the centre in 2007, in order to focus on research and content-driven consulting. In 2007, he was appointed Professor of Environmental Health Impact Assessment at IRAS (Utrecht University). He also became Chairman of the Science Forum of the Knowledge Platform Electromagnetic Fields in the same year.
Areas of expertise
- Environmental epidemiology
- Exposure assessment
- Environmental Health Impact Assessment
- Integrated Risk Assessment
- Health follow-up of disasters victims