The environment is everything around us - the air we breathe, the water we drink and use, and the food we consume. It's also the chemicals, radiation, microbes, and physical forces with which we come into contact. Our interactions with the environment are complex and are not always healthy. We at the National Center for Environmental Health, also known as NCEH, are working to prevent illness, disability, and death from interactions between people and the environment. We are especially committed to safeguarding the health of populations that are particularly vulnerable to certain environmental hazards - children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
We conduct research in the laboratory and in the field to investigate the effects of the environment on health. We track and evaluate environment-related health problems through surveillance systems. We also help domestic and international agencies and organizations prepare for and respond to natural, technologic, humanitarian, and terrorism-related environmental emergencies.
On the basis of research and surveillance results, we work with partners to protect human health. Our interventions range from responding to emergencies, educating and training various audiences, and developing new standards and guidelines, to helping formulate public policy. We strive to protect health over the entire life-span. We work to promote optimal fetal, infant, and child development, including preventing birth defects and developmental disabilities, and enhance health and quality of life and prevent secondary conditions among children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities.
The scope of our work is worldwide, from protecting health during emergencies both in the United States and abroad to protecting the health of the public visiting U.S. national parks and taking cruises on ships that dock in U.S. ports. Since environmental problems cross geographic boundaries, and since lessons learned in helping other countries can be used to understand and address U.S. public health problems, we have established a global health office to coordinate and expand our global activities.
The nature of our work is also expanding. Because genetic knowledge, tests, and services will play an increasingly larger role in public health practice, we are working to make sure that knowledge of human genetics is translated into effective and ethical public health actions.
No matter where and how we work, we are committed to safeguarding the health of the U.S. public, both in the United States and abroad.
NCEH Main Activities
National leadership in prevention programs, global health, tests, and services
- Public health surveillance
- Applied research
- Epidemiologic studies
- Laboratory analyses
- Statistical analyses
- Behavioral interventions
- Operations and systems research
- Communication and education
- Standards, guidelines, and recommendations
- Training and technical assistance of officials of state, local, and tribal environmental health agencies in preventing and responding to environmental public health challenges
Sharing Our Stories: NCEH’s Impact on Public Health
Learn how the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) plans, directs, and coordinates a national program to maintain and improve the health of the American people by promoting a healthy environment and by preventing premature death and avoidable illness and disability caused by non-infectious, non-occupational environmental and related factors. We are especially committed to safeguarding the health of populations that are particularly vulnerable to certain environmental hazards - children, the elderly, and people with disabilities...more
- State, local, and tribal health departments
- Federal, state, and local health and environmental agencies
- Philanthropic foundations
- Industry and labor groups
- Professional, voluntary, and community organizations
- Managed care organizations
- Foreign governments
- International health organizations
NCEH Programs and Activities
- Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services
- Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
- Division of Laboratory Sciences
History of the National Center for Environmental Health
- A Brief History of the National Center for Environmental Health
- 1980-1994 History by Subject
- 1980-1989 Highlights
- 1990-1994 Highlights
NCEH Program Information
- NCEH/ATSDR Organization Chart [PDF - 88 KB]
- NCEH Brochure
- NCEH Kids' Page
- Program Overviews
- NCEH/ATSDR Strategic Plan