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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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18 news items

Charleston Gazette
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:43:56 -0700

“Since this is a new position within the agency, the epidemiologist would need sufficient training and experience in environmental epidemiology to be able to effectively develop the agency's program.” In a prepared statement released with the ATSDR ...
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

... recommending is not a criticism of the current staff but a recommendation that the state Bureau of Public Health be strengthened. "What they're asking is that we build an improved infrastructure to respond to environmental epidemiology events ...
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 07:15:00 -0700

A cancer epidemiologist with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Environmental Epidemiology Branch will be present to address cancer data and concerns. Georgia-Pacific representatives will be available to provide information on the ...
New Haven Register
Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:57:42 -0700

There also are playgrounds surfaced with “rubber mulch.” David Brown, a former chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health at the state Department of Health, has 10 years of experience studying the chemical composition of rubber tires.
Wicked Local Medford
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:07:30 -0700

Maryann Langen has a stack of letters responding to formal complaints she's filed for more than almost 20 years about airplanes taking off from Logan Airport and flying directly above her home near West Medford Square. Langen said the noise started a ...
UVM News
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:10:01 -0700

... quantities, for how many years, and which of these women developed breast cancer. By linking these disparate databases, the Big Data approach allows you to do “environmental epidemiology even if you're locked into a pharmacy,” Ahern says, laughing.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 20:12:44 -0700

“For all recreational waters including the James River, very few harmful algal bloom-related illnesses have been reported ... in recent years,” said Rebecca LePrell, the Health Department's director of environmental epidemiology. In 1981, an algae ...
New Haven Register
Sat, 02 Aug 2014 14:14:19 -0700

One of those people is public health toxicologist David Brown, a former chief of Environmental Epidemiology and Occupational Health at the state Department of Health. Brown has 10 years of experience studying the chemical composition of rubber tires ...

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