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Your Environment. Your Health.

Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice

Environmental factors are fundamental determinants of our health and well-being. Environmental factors can also lead to disease and health disparities when the environments where people live, work, learn and play are toxic, burdened by chemicals, and social inequities. These social inequities, often referred to as social determinants of health (SDOH), include the complex relationships between genes and the environment, individual behaviors, access to health services, socioeconomic status, literacy levels, and legislative policies. Disparities exist when health outcomes differ between populations based on the extent of environmental risk factors and SDOH.

In the United States, people of color, low-income communities, and tribal populations have been, and continue to be, disproportionately exposed to environmental conditions that can harm their health. Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. When environmental justice is achieved, environmental health disparities will be reduced.

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research Program

The NIH and EPA have announced the funding of five new Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities. Learn more about their research and their community engagement efforts.

Advancing Environmental Justice

Advancing Environmental Justice Cover Page

Reducing environmental health disparities and promoting environmental justice are long-standing goals of the NIEHS. To support these goals, over the past two decades, the NIEHS has supported numerous research programs, scientific conferences, and public health interventions. A report titled Advancing Environmental Justice(3MB) describes these efforts.

This report is the first to highlight the contributions to environmental justice by the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT). It provides a brief history of the environmental justice movement, the role of and funding investments made by DERT, an analysis of those contributions, conclusions, and suggested next steps.

In addition, the Advancing Environmental Justice: Annotated Bibliography(695KB) was developed as a compendium to the report to provide researchers, communities, and stakeholders with more accessible information about key outcomes reported in environmental justice projects. The annotated bibliography lists and summarizes peer-reviewed research articles from several of the projects highlighted in the report.

Program Team

Program Contact for Worker Training Education

Sharon Beard
Sharon D. Beard, M.S.
Industrial Hygienist
Tel 984-287-3237
Fax 301-451-5595
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-14
Durham, N.C. 27709

Program Contact for Community-Based Participatory Research

Symma Finn, Ph.D.
Symma Finn, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3259
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-04
Durham, N.C. 27709

Program Contact for Environmental Epidemiology

Kimberly Ann Gray
Kimberly Gray, Ph.D.
Health Scientist Administrator
Tel 984-287-3262
530 Davis Dr
Keystone Building
Durham, NC 27713

Program Contact for Environmental Justice and Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

Liam R. O'Fallon
Liam O'Fallon, M.A.
Health Specialist
Tel 984-287-3298
Fax 919-316-4606
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-12
Durham, N.C. 27709
Claudia Thompson
Claudia Thompson, Ph.D.
Chief, Population Health Branch
Tel 984-287-3330
Fax 919-541-4937
P.O. Box 12233
Mail Drop K3-04
Durham, N.C. 27709