Environmental Health

Environmental health is concerned with how both the natural and built environment affect human health by looking at the impact of physical, chemical and biological factors external to humans.  Those working in Environmental health fields are concerned with preventing diseases or other illnesses by assessing and controlling environmental factors that pose a threat to human health whether it involves air quality, natural disasters, radiation, water quality, UV exposure, indoor air pollutants, climate change, healthy communities and work environments, or the effects of toxic substances. Environmental health can also refer to ecosystem status or function. Chemicals, diseases, and invasive species threaten to alter wildlife and plant populations, which in turn may impact ecosystem function. Maintaining health, whether ecosystem or human arguably presents one of the greatest challenges of the day, in general maintaining optimal ecosystem function is essential for continued survival of all species including humans.

  • Cats, Toxoplasma, and Schizophrenia Featured Article Cats, Toxoplasma, and Schizophrenia Cats, Toxoplasma, and Schizophrenia

    In humans, acute infection withToxoplasmosis can produce psychotic symptoms similar to those displayed by persons with schizophrenia. This article written by E. Fuller Torrey... More »

  • Cleaner Cook Stoves, Better Health Featured Article Cleaner Cook Stoves, Better Health Cleaner Cook Stoves, Better Health

    Where There’s Smoke, There’s Disease. This article, written by Tina Adler*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access... More »

  • Healthy Community Design Featured Article Healthy Community Design Healthy Community Design

    The way we design and build our communities can affect our physical and mental health. Healthy community design integrates evidence-based health strategies into community... More »

  • Plants and Healthy Indoor Air Featured Article Plants and Healthy Indoor Air Plants and Healthy Indoor Air

    Poor indoor air quality has been linked to health problems. This article, written by Dr. Luz Claudio*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the... More »

  • Household Products Database Featured Article Household Products Database Household Products Database

    What is under your kitchen sink, in your garage, in your bathroom, and on the shelves in your laundry room? Learn more about what's in these products, about potential... More »

Recently Updated
Synthetic turf: health debate Last Updated on 2014-11-29 22:02:51 This article, written by Dr. Luz Claudio of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth. In Little League dugouts, community parks, professional athletic organizations, and international soccer leagues, on college campuses and neighborhood playgrounds, even in residential yards, the question being asked is "grass or plastic?" The debate is over synthetic turf, used to blanket lawns, park spaces, and athletic fields where children and adults relax and play; the questions are whether synthetic turf... More »
Oil Drilling Environmental Health Concerns Last Updated on 2014-11-29 21:42:39 This article, written by Charles W. Schmidt 1, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth. As Royal Dutch Shell and other oil companies prepare to drill offshore in the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), a new report commissioned by the Washington, DC–based Pew Environment Group concludes current response capabilities aren’t adequate to contain and clean up a major spill in the area.1 Marilyn Heiman, who directs the group’s U.S. Arctic program, says drilling on the Alaskan OCS requires a science-based... More »
Gut reaction: environmental effects on the human microbiota Last Updated on 2014-11-29 21:03:07 This article, written by Melissa Lee Phillips, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth. Living with each of us—on our skin, in our mucosa, and in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract—are microorganisms whose numbers dwarf the number of our own cells and genes. Although some of these microbes are pathogens, most are harmless or even beneficial. The body’s assortment of microorganisms, collectively called the microbiota, is similar to an organ in that it performs functions essential for our survival. Some microbes produce... More »
Pollution Last Updated on 2014-11-09 17:40:04 Pollution is environmental contamination that results in harm or death to living organisms. Most pollution is in the form of chemical additions to air, water or soil; however, in modern times starting in the mid-twentieth century noise and light have been considered as pollution sources. Most pollution is man-made, with natural fluctuations in atmospheric composition, surface water bodies and soil considered temporal gyrations in the Earth's natural history. The chief driver of pollution is the massive growth in human population, which induces the proximate causes of intensive agriculture and extraordinary industrial output. The United Nations and the Blacksmith Institute[1] are two prominent organisations that tabulate locales of the greatest pollution intensity; while their listings do not correspond precisely, the overlap countries that both entities agree are the worst polluted... More »
Air quality in megacities Last Updated on 2014-09-18 16:40:27 Ambient air pollution in an increasingly urbanized world directly threatens the health of a large fraction of the world’s population. There is growing recognition that air-borne emissions from major urban and industrial areas influence both air quality and climate change on scales ranging from regional up to continental and global. Deteriorating urban air quality affects the viability of important natural and agricultural ecosystems in regions surrounding highly urbanized areas, and significantly influences regional atmospheric chemistry and global climate change. This challenge is particularly acute in the developing world where the rapid growth of megacities (cities having population equal to or more than 10 million) is producing atmospheric pollution of unprecedented severity and extent. For example, the deterioration of air quality is a problem that is directly experienced... More »