Health Studies - Understanding Chemical and Radiation Exposures

spraying chemicals in a field

Each day, people everywhere could be exposed to chemicals or radiation—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 environmental toxicology and epidemiology staff of CDC’s Health Studies within the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) specializes in studying, investigating and assessing the extent of and risk for human exposure to environmental chemicals and toxins, and determining the risk of adverse health effects from these exposures.

NEW! Toxicological Outbreak Investigation Training and Toolkit is now available! Click to learn the knowledge and skills need to investigate a toxicological outbreak.

Health Studies (HS) strives to help the public and health care professionals better understand the health effects from, and how to minimize exposure to, chemicals and toxins in the environment. HS provides integrated subject matter expertise and leadership in epidemiology and medical toxicology to investigate outbreaks, conduct environmental public health research, and provide technical assistance in state, national and international settings. In addition to providing environmental toxicology expertise to interpret the risk from chemical exposures, HS coordinates CDC activities for three primary programs and activities: HS’s National Chemical and Radiological Surveillance Program, the Emory/CDC Medical Toxicology Fellowship and the Poison Center and Public Health Collaborations Community of Practice.

Environmental epidemiologists at HS conduct research and investigations to identify harmful environmental exposures and develop recommendations to reduce exposure and minimize potential associated health risks. HS provides environmental epidemiology expertise for local, state, tribal, and international governments to assist with the design and implementation of outbreak and emergency response investigations as well as long-term environmental health research studies.

Page last reviewed: April 8, 2021