NIH: Office of Disease Prevention

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Introduction

Environmental health refers to preventing or controlling disease, injury, and disability related to the interactions between people and their environment. The environment includes all physical, chemical, and biological factors external to the person, as well as substances—food, water, air, etc.—consumed to support life and health.

Environmental health research at NIH serves a critical function of building a scientific foundation for essential public health and disease prevention activities. The more we know about environmental exposures and how they influence various health outcomes, the greater our ability to create healthy environments and to improve our well-being by reducing or preventing hazardous exposures.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is the NIH Institute dedicated to environmental health research. Other NIH Institutes and Centers support additional relevant programs and activities. The research topics include air pollution, climate change, water quality and sanitation, toxic substances, gene-environment interactions, and other environmental exposures that impact human health throughout the lifespan. This Research Highlight on Environmental Health provides examples of relevant research activities and programs across the NIH and describes recent scientific advances and resources developed by the NIH and its federal partners.