The environment is everything around us: the air we breathe, the water we drink and use, and the food we eat. Additionally, the chemicals, radiation, microbes, and physical forces with which we come into contact. Our contacts with the environment are complex and not always healthy. At the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) we work to prevent illness, disability, and death from contacts between people and the environment. We are especially committed to protecting the health of vulnerable populations — children, the elderly, and people with disabilities – from certain environmental hazards.
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 help U.S. 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, developing new standards and guidelines, and helping formulate public policy. We strive to protect health over the entire life-span. We work to promote the best fetal, infant, and child development, including: preventing birth defects and developmental disabilities; enhancing health and quality of life; and, preventing secondary conditions among children, teens, and adults with disabilities.
The scope of our work is worldwide. We protect health during emergencies both in the U.S. and internationally. We also protect the health of the public visiting U.S. national parks and taking cruises on ships that dock in U.S. ports. Environmental problems cross geographic boundaries. 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 expanding. Genetic knowledge, tests, and services play a larger role in public health practice. We work hard 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 protecting the health of all people, not only in the U.S.
NCEH Main Activities
We provide 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
- Environmental public health emergency training and technical support to officials of state, local, and tribal environmental health agencies
- 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
NCEH Program Information
- NCEH/ATSDR Organization Chart [PDF – 88 KB]
- NCEH Overview
- Program Overviews
- NCEH/ATSDR Strategic Plan
- Page last reviewed: June 19, 2018
- Page last updated: June 19, 2018
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