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About the Program

Environmental Hazards and Health Effects

Investigating the Relationship between Human Health and the Environment

Our Mission:

  • Protect people from environmentally-related illness, disability, and death through surveillance, research, and action.
Our Goals:
  • Expand the availability, quality, accessibility and use of environmental public health tracking and other surveillance data to inform decision-making
  • Improve our understanding of the link between health and the environment through applied research
  • Expand implementation of evidence-based interventions
  • Strengthen environmental public health capacity and competencies at the federal, state, local, territorial, tribal, and global levels.
  • Strengthen the ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters and to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
EHHE 2015 Strategic Plan [PDF - 309KB]

CDC’s Division of Environmental Hazards & Health Effects (EHHE) includes the following programs:

Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch

EHHE researches and investigates the effects of airborne environmental agents on respiratory diseases. Focus areas include asthma, biomass burning, carbon monoxide poisoning, and mold.


Despite some evidence of stabilizing death rates and declining hospitalization rates, asthma remains an important cause of illness and death in the United States. Rates of emergency department visits have continued to slowly increase and large disparities persist, with African Americans having rates of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and death three times higher than those for whites.

Through its National Asthma Control Program, EHHE works with state grantees to reduce the number of deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, school days or workdays missed, and limitations on activity due to asthma. The program follows a three-part approach to advance public health – health care collaboration around asthma: : 1) Funding state programs and national organizations, 2) Promoting asthma quality measures, and 3) Informing policy makers about the burden of asthma.

Carbon Monoxide

As all carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a result of human behavior, altering that behavior is a key to preventing CO poisoning. We monitor, evaluate, and present surveillance data and work with national data sources and state partners to expand surveillance of CO poisoning, engage in multiple research activities related to CO poisoning prevention and human behavior, and use what we have learned from surveillance, research activities, and field investigations to engage in education and communication activities, respond to state requests for technical assistance, and strengthen state and local capacity to respond to CO-related issues through targeted outreach and education efforts; and jointly developed surveillance and research agendas.


EHHE provides information about mold and health, an inventory of state indoor air quality programs, advice on assessment, cleanup efforts, and prevention of mold growth, and links to resources.

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Climate and Health Program

We support state and city health department efforts to develop and pilot methods to adapt to the present and future health effects of climate change. Our program accomplishes this through funding provided to 16 states and two cities through the Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative (CSCRI).

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Environmental Public Health Tracking Branch

The environment plays a significant role in human development and health. Some links between environmental exposures and disease, such as lead and impaired cognitive development in children, are well documented. Others, such as a possible link between disinfectant byproducts and bladder cancer are suspected but not yet proven.

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) is a system of integrated health, exposure, and hazard information and data from a variety of national, state, and city sources. It presents what it known about where environmental hazards exist, where people are exposed to hazards, and how targeted action can protect health, reduce illness, and save lives.

On the Tracking Network, you can view maps, tables, and charts with data about:

  • chemicals and other substances found in the environment
  • some chronic diseases and conditions
  • the area where you live
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Health Studies Branch

EHHE investigates the human health effects of exposure to environmental hazards ranging from chemical pollutants to natural, technologic, or terrorist disasters. The results are used to develop, implement, and evaluate strategies for preventing or reducing harmful exposures. The following are examples of current health study subject areas:

Promoting Clean Water for Health

Drinking water quality has a major influence on public health. Even in the United States, clean water is not always assured. About 12% of households in the United States obtain drinking water from private wells, while others obtain their drinking water from local springs, livestock water tanks, or from rainwater captured in cisterns. Little is known about the quality of water from these unregulated sources and the potential impact on human health.

Understanding Chemical Exposures

Each day, people everywhere are exposed to chemicals—in their food, in the water they drink, and in the air they breathe. Some exposures are the result of accidents, disasters, or intentional attempts to cause harm. The Health Studies Branch (HSB) of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) specializes in studying the public health consequences of these exposures.

Preparedness and Response for Public Health Disasters

A disaster is the serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses that exceed the local capacity to respond and calls for external assistance. Natural and man-made disasters can occur without warning; keeping them from turning into major public health emergencies requires careful planning.

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Radiation Studies Branch

EHHE identifies potentially harmful environmental exposures to radiation and associated toxicants, conducts radiation-related health research, and responds to protect the public’s health in the event of an emergency involving radiation or radioactive materials.

EHHE develops guidelines and training for emergency department management of casualties following a radiologic event. EHHE participates regularly in emergency response drills, working closely with other federal, state, and local agencies to develop, test, and implement extensive national radiologic emergency response plans.

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Organizational Chart

org chart
  • Office of the Director
    • Climate and Health Program
    • Office of Communications
    • Office of Policy
    • Office of Science
  • Air Pollution & Respiratory Health Branch
    • Asthma Epidemiology Research & Air Pollution Team
    • Asthma Program Team
    • Evaluation & Community Interventions Team
    • Health Communications Activity
    • Surveillance & Analytic Epidemiology Team

  • Environmental Health Tracking Branch
    • Systems Development Team
    • Program Services Team

  • Health Studies Branch
    • Disaster Epidemiology & Assessment Team
    • Environmental Toxins & Chemicals Team
    • Emerging Environmental Threats Team

  • Radiation Studies Branch
    • Program Support Team
    • Radiological Assessment Team
    • Education & Communications Team

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How to contact the Division

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Hwy, Atlanta, GA 30341

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