The Department of Environmental Health focuses on complex problems that require the contributions of many specialties. The department’s faculty, research staff, and students reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the field and include chemists, engineers, epidemiologists, applied mathematicians, physicians, occupational health nurses, physiologists, cell biologists, molecular biologists, and microbiologists. Teaching and research activities of the department are carried out through three programs:
Using an interdisciplinary approach, the Exposure, Epidemiology and Risk Program seeks to investigate and mitigate heath risks associated with environmental and occupational hazards and provide scientific evidence for sound environmental and health policies.
Problems the program is investigating include the cognitive and cardiovascular effects of lead exposure, the effects of air pollution on respiratory and cardiovascular health, airborne infection transmission and health effects of bioaerosols, the effects of infectious agents and disinfection by products in drinking water, biomarkers of environmental exposure, and genetic susceptibility to environmentally induced malignancies. Faculty members measure and model ambient, indoor, and personal exposures to environmental and workplace contaminants, and develop instruments and methods for characterizing environmental pollutants. Advanced analytic/statistical methods are used to associate health risks with environmental factors.
The objective of the Education and Research Center is to give occupational safety and health professionals the opportunity to develop public health perspectives, a sensitivity about political climates, and the skills and knowledge needed to identify and prevent occupational impairments, disease, and injuries through control or elimination of harmful occupational exposures.
Program faculty study the biological mechanisms underlying health effects of environmental exposures. We focus on three main problems: air pollution, lung infection, and asthma. Our investigations use the full palette of modern techniques, including molecular and cellular biology, animal models, and human studies. Areas of research include:
- biomechanics of cells and tissues in normal and diseased lungs
- smooth muscle and airway constriction in asthma
- molecular and cellular mediators of pulmonary inflammation
- toxic mechanisms of inhaled air pollution particles
- environmental agents and risk of lung infection