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National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

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Climate Experts Warming to Consideration of Health Issues

John Balbus at the WHO conference

Scientific meetings highlight the links between climate change and human health

Three meetings in mid-2014 gave prominent recognition to research findings that demonstrate climate change effects on human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) held its first high-level meeting on this issue in August. In September, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon convened the UN Climate Summit in New York that featured, for the first time, a panel on Climate, Jobs, and Health. And in July, in Washington, D.C., child health was the focus of an Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health convened by a Presidential task force.

Full Article (422KB)

GEH Chat

GEH Podcasts

Interested in Learning More about the Health Impacts of Climate Change?

Check out the recent three-part GEH podcast series featuring expert discussions of recent climate assessments and the health impacts of climate change in the United States and around the globe.

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Science Spotlight

Pesticide Use among Tanzanian Farmers in Africa

Tanzanian farmers

Pesticides are used around the world to control pests that affect crops. Estimates indicate that worldwide, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from pesticide exposure. The risk of exposure is exacerbated in low- and middle-income countries because farmers there often have less knowledge about adverse health effects of pesticide exposure and inadequate access to safe and effective personal protective gear. In a recent issue of BMC Public Health, Elikana Lekei, Ph.D., and colleagues investigated the use of pesticides in the Arusha region of Tanzania, Africa.

Full Article (255KB)

Lead Exposure Linked to Thyroid Dysfunction During Pregnancy

Map of Serbia

A new study by NIEHS-funded researchers at Columbia University suggests that lead exposure during pregnancy reduces maternal thyroid function, a condition associated with poor birth outcomes and lower IQ in school-aged children. Despite its high prevalence and adverse health outcomes, little is known about the environmental determinants of maternal thyroid dysfunction. This study, led by Pam Factor-Litvak, Ph.D., and doctoral student Linda Kahn, is the first to explore the relationship between lead exposure and thyroid function among pregnant women, specifically focusing on a cohort in former Yugoslavia.

Full Article (252KB)

Training & Capacity Building

Building Global Capacity and Training to Respond to the Health Impacts of Climate Change

Curriculum for Best Practices cover

At the recent United Nations (UN) Climate Summit in New York, health policy-makers discussed the need to harness scientific, technological, and information capabilities to help vulnerable populations strengthen their climate resilience. “We’re seeing a rapidly expanding awareness about the importance of climate change among the health ministries of the world,” said John Balbus, M.D., M.P.H., senior advisor for public health at the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences, who attended this meeting. “In many cases, the health impacts of climate change are becoming visible and difficult to ignore. So, health ministers are saying, ‘okay, we see that this is important, so what do we do?’” Protecting against health impacts requires coordinated capacity building at the national and international levels.

Full Article (210KB)

Other Research

  • A Survey of Alkylphenols, Bisphenols, and Triclosan in Personal Care Products from China and the United States Full Text
  • A Prospective Study of Growth and Biomarkers of Exposure to Aflatoxin and Fumonisin during Early Childhood in Tanzania. Full Text
  • Associations Between Arsenic Species in Exfoliated Urothelial Cells and Prevalence of Diabetes among Residents of Chihuahua, Mexico Full Text
  • Blood Lead Concentrations and Children's Behavioral and Emotional Problems: A Cohort Study Full Text
  • High Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease in a Community Survey of Urban Bangladeshis: a Cross-Sectional Study Full Text

GEH Extras

Part of the recent “24 Hours of Reality, 24 Reasons of Hope” event, the adoption of clean cookstoves in Peru, Kenya, and India is explored in this ‘Field Report’ video.

Chinese Translation of ‘Early Life Origins of Metabolic Syndrome: The Role of Environmental Chemicals’

By: Simon Chu

(中文繁體) Traditional Chinese (355KB)

Original Article Featured in GEH Newsletter Science Spotlight , August 2014.

Funding Opportunities


  • Expert Consultation on the Effects of Climate Change on Children’s Health
    View scientific presentations from this July 2014 event sponsored by the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children. Presentations discuss why children are more vulnerable to certain impacts of climate change and areas where more research is needed including air pollution, food security, waterborne illness, vectorborne disease, mental health and trauma from extreme weather events, and others.
  • Safe Access to Fuel and Energy
    An initiative of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), the UN Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and humanitarian agencies, this new initiative aims to provide a ‘cross-sectoral approach to energy planning.’ Recognizing that access to fuel is related to health, income generation, the environment, and gender-based violence, efforts of the group will focus on building capacity, cross-sector coordination, and evidence building.
  • Quantitative Risk Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Selected Causes of Death, 2030s and 2050s
    A recently released report from WHO includes an update to the burden of disease due to climate change and future estimates of the annual burden of death among populations in the 2030s and 2050s.
  • U.S. Health and Human Services Climate and Health Briefing
    Hear from experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the health impacts of climate change.

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