XII. Environmental and Occupational Health
- Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences--Biomonitoring
- Birth Defects Prevention
- Disability Prevention
- Lead Poisoning
- Occupational Safety and Health
The relationship between exposure to toxic substances in the environment and environmental diseases is a major public health concern. CDC examines health outcomes that result from interactions between people's unique biologic, social, and lifestyle factors and their physical, chemical, and developmental environment. Significant premature death and avoidable illness and disability are caused by personal behaviors, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxic substances and natural and technological disasters. CDC's environmental health sciences laboratory develops tests of human exposure to toxicants (biomonitoring); and, when combined with epidemiologic studies, these tests provide vital information about how exposures contribute to serious human disease. In addition to gathering and analyzing human data on environmental exposures and disease, CDC leads efforts to translate scientific data into practical and cost-effective public health actions. This work by the National Center for Environmental Health complements that of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at CDC, which conducts research and provides national and world leadership in preventing work-related illness, death, and disability, described below under Occupational Health.
Human exposure to toxic substances causes numerous diseases, including cancer, birth defects, respiratory disease, renal disease, and neurologic disease. Many scientists estimate that about two-thirds of all cancers result from environmental exposure, but much better data are needed to improve this estimate and determine which exposures cause cancer and other diseases. Children and the economically disadvantaged are typically at higher risk for disease and death from exposure to toxicants. The single most serious impediment to assessing human risk and preventing death and disease caused by exposure to toxic substances is lack of valid human exposure data. CDC must continually conduct prevention research to identify, test, and evaluate disease prevention strategies. Some examples of critical environmental disease prevention topics are: pesticides exposure, drinking water and health; air pollution and asthma; US-Mexico Border issues; emergency response to technological and natural disasters, and veterans' health issues.