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Environmental epidemiology is the branch of epidemiology concerned with the discovery of the environmental exposures that contribute to or protect against injuries, illnesses, developmental conditions, disabilities, and deaths; and identification of public health and health care actions to manage the risks associated with harmful exposures. Environmental epidemiology studies external factors that affect the incidence, prevalence, and geographic range of health conditions. These factors may be naturally occurring or may be introduced into environments where people live, work, and play. Environmental exposures are involuntary and thus generally exclude occupational exposures and voluntary exposures such as active smoking, medications, and diet.

Environmental exposures can be broadly categorized into those that are proximate (e.g. directly leading to a health condition), including chemicals, physical agents, and microbiological pathogens, and those that are more distal, such as social conditions, climate change, and other broad-scale environmental changes. Proximate exposures occur through air, food, water, and skin contact. Distal exposures cause adverse health conditions directly by altering proximate exposures, and indirectly through changes in ecosystems and other support systems for human health.[1]

Environmental epidemiology research can inform risk assessments; development of standards and other risk management activities; and estimates of the co-benefits and co-harms of policies designed to reduce global environment change, including policies implemented in other sectors (e.g. food and water) that can affect human health.

Vulnerability is the summation of all risk and protective factors that ultimately determine whether an individual or subpopulation experiences adverse health outcomes when an exposure to an environmental agent occurs. Sensitivity is an individual’s or subpopulation’s increased responsiveness, primarily for biological reasons, to that exposure.[2] Biological sensitivity may be related to developmental stage, pre-existing medical conditions, acquired factors, and genetic factors. Socioeconomic factors also play a critical role in altering vulnerability and sensitivity to environmentally mediated factors by increasing the likelihood of exposure to harmful agents, interacting with biological factors that mediate risk, and/or leading to differences in the ability to prepare for or cope with exposures or early phases of illness. Populations living in certain regions may be at increased risk due to location and the environmental characteristics of a region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Slikker, William Jr., Chang, Louis W., Handbook of Developmental Neurotoxicology, p. 460, 1998, Academic Press, ISBN 0080533434, google books
  2. ^ Balbus, John M; Catherine Malina (January 2009). "Identifying vulnerable subpopulations for climate change health effects in the United States". Journal of occupational and environmental medicine / American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 51 (1): 33–37. doi:10.1097/JOM.0b013e318193e12e. ISSN 1536-5948. PMID 19136871. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Baker, D. and Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., ed. (2008). Environmental Epidemiology: Study Methods and Application. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-852792-3. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_epidemiology — Please support Wikipedia.
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Medicine Hat News
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:07:30 -0700

She holds a Masters of Science degree in environmental epidemiology and speaks at least five languages. She came to Medicine Hat from Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Nfld. where she was a regional MOH. The position Bennett vacated in Medicine Hat has not ...


Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:48:45 -0700

The EPH's decision to take a public health approach, rather than focus on research, was an ethical one, said Brown, a former chief of environmental, epidemiology and occupational health at the Connecticut Department of Public Health. "We saw that ...
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:33:45 -0700

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Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:18:30 -0700

Both potential and new parents should know that infant toenails can tell them how much arsenic their newborn has been exposed to before birth. This information is important because arsenic is a toxin that can have a detrimental impact on a child's health.

University Herald

University Herald
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 07:03:45 -0700

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Between The Lines

Between The Lines
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:47:08 -0700

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Scientific American
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 07:04:19 -0700

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Linex Legal (press release) (registration)
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 23:33:45 -0700

The study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology was supported by the National Institutes of Health. Learn more at healthfinder.gov. HHS HealthBeat is a production of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I'm Ira ...

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