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Your Environment. Your Health.

Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice

Addressing Environmental Health Disparities

Environmental factors such as air and water quality are fundamental determinants of our health and well-being. Environmental factors can also lead to disease and health disparities when the places where people live, work, learn and play are burdened by social inequities.

These social inequities, often referred to as social determinants of health, include differences in individual behaviors, sociocultural influences, access to health services, economic status, and literacy levels. Environmental health disparities exist when communities exposed to a combination of poor environmental quality and social inequities have more sickness and disease than wealthier, less polluted communities.

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research Program

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

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, also known as environmental equity, 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.

Advancing Environmental Justice Cover Page

Reducing environmental health disparities and promoting environmental justice are long-standing goals of NIEHS. To support these goals NIEHS has supported numerous research programs, scientific conferences, and public health interventions over the past two decades. A report titled Advancing Environmental Justice (3MB), published in July 2015, describes these efforts.

This report is the first to highlight the contributions to environmental justice by 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, and suggested next steps.

In addition, the Advancing Environmental Justice: Annotated Bibliography (695KB) was developed as a compendium to the July 2015 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 Engaged and Communications Research

Symma Finn, Ph.D.
Symma Finn, Ph.D.
Program Officer
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
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