~ EER Program Overview~
Mission: The mission of the EER program is the investigation and mitigation of health risks associated with environmental and occupational hazards. The program addresses these environmental challenges to our society through an interdisciplinary approach. This involves the characterization of contaminant sources and environmental transport, identification of routes of exposure, investigation of health effects, and the employment of risk assessment and management strategies to minimize adverse outcomes.
Faculty members focus their research, and students acquire core competencies, in three domains:
- exposure, which emphasizes the chemical, physical, microbiological, and engineering aspects of environmental and occupational exposures. Faculty members study the transport and fate of environmental contaminants by measurement and modeling of ambient, indoor, and personal exposures to environmental and workplace contaminants. They also develop instruments and methods for collecting, analyzing, and assessing the effects of physical, chemical, and biological stressors.
- epidemiology, which focuses on identifying and measuring the influence of environmental factors (physical, chemical, and biologic) on human disease in communities to provide scientific evidence for sound environmental and health policies.
- risk assessment, involving the integration of evidence from exposure assessment, epidemiology, toxicology, and other disciplines to inform policy decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Faculty members are involved in research and training on analytic methods to quantify human health risks, with applications that include evaluations of new products, fuels, water supplies, technologies, remediation strategies, and development of policies to protect both ecological and human health.
Faculty Expertise: One of the strengths of EER is the multidisciplinary approach to addressing complex environmental health problems. The EER faculty encompasses primary, secondary, and adjunct members with expertise in the areas of environmental engineering, exposure assessment, environmental epidemiology, atmospheric sciences, indoor air quality, industrial hygiene, ergonomics and biomechanics, aerobiology, radiation physics, environmental toxicology, risk assessment, aquatic chemistry, among others. Also the EER Program relies upon the expertise of other School departments such as Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Genetics and Complex Diseases, Global Health and Population and Health Policy and Management--as well as other research groups from Harvard and the Boston area.
Research: EER program investigators are currently pursuing research projects that include: measurement and modeling of ambient, indoor, and personal exposures to environmental contaminants, use of biomarkers to assess environmental and occupational exposures to toxic contaminants, development of sampling and analytical methods to characterize environmental pollutants, development and application of methods to determine the bioavailability of contaminants in aquatic sediments, development and application of analytic/statistical methods to examine associations between health risks and environmental factors, investigation of effects of air pollution on respiratory and cardiovascular health, investigation of cognitive and cardiovascular effects of metal exposures, investigation of the effects of indoor and outdoor allergens on asthma, investigation of airborne infection transmission and health effects of bioaerosols, investigation of health effects of water contaminants, examination of the importance of genetic susceptibility to environmentally induced diseases, assessment of the public health benefits of emission controls at older power plants in the US, and assessment of population risks related to primary and secondary emissions from power plants and mobile sources.