Environmental Risks

Portugal is periodically afflicted by forest fires that, in addition to the huge economic losses they cause, also contribute to the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems. Usually, the more severe the situation of meteorological and hydrological drought faced by the Country, the more intense these fires are.

By contrast, due to its geographic location, to the degradation of soils by fire and to the increasing occurrence of extreme climate events, Portugal is also periodically affected by floods which contribute to coastal erosion, presenting a risk to the population, assets and economic activities related to the sea and the coast. The water erosion that affects the soils also entails a loss of productive land, nutrients and organic matter.

On the other hand, protecting human health, ecosystems and agriculture calls for particular attention to risks related to the use of biotechnologies, particularly to products that result from the genetic modification of living beings. Therefore, the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment and the marketing of products containing or consisting of GMOs are monitored by regulatory instruments that allow a thorough assessment of the risks involved.

The possible release into Nature of chemicals composed of substances classified as carcinogens, mutagens or toxic to reproduction can also have a negative impact on human health and the environment, so their production, placing on the market and use are duly monitored.

Similarly, the use of radioactive sources, in industry, health or research, and the use of nuclear reactors, is governed by high demands on safety and high standards of protection of the population and the environment. For that reason, Portugal has an environmental radiation surveillance network, with permanently accessible and up-to-date data.

Fact sheets

  • Rural Fires

    The "Rural Fires" fact sheet reports on the number of fires occurred in mainland Portugal and the total burnt area, as well as the area burnt in protected areas, identifying their root causes.

  • Risk associated with flood-prone areas

    The "Risk associated with flood-prone areas" fact sheet identifies the regions where there is a higher risk of flooding, as well as the measures taken or to be taken to decrease their occurrence and their consequences for human health, the environment, heritage and economic activities.

  • Coastline under erosion
    The "Coastline under erosion" fact sheet assesses the extent of shoreline in low-lying sandy areas subject to erosion/retreat.
  • Drought
    The "Drought" fact sheet assesses the occurrence of possible periods of reduced water availability, considering different definitions of drought: meteorological, agricultural, agro-meteorological and hydrological.
  • Chemical substances and products
    The "Chemical substances and products" fact sheet provides information on the substances made available on the European market, in view of the processes associated with implementing the Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Additionally, this sheet records the number of chemicals exported and imported from and to Portugal as part of the Regulation on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC).
  • Genetically modified organisms
    The "Genetically modified organisms" (GMOs) fact sheet quantifies the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment and the placing on the market of products containing or consisting of GMOs.
  • Radiological control of the environment
    The "Radiological control of the environment" fact sheet monitors the concentrations of artificial and natural radionuclides in environmental compartments (atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial) deemed as direct routes of contamination for Man, to ensure the monitoring of the actual exposure of the Portuguese population to radioactivity.