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Why Study Environmental and Occupational Health?

Environmental and occupational health
  • examines health effects of exposure to potentially harmful biological, chemical, and physical environmental agents
  • estimates risks to the environment and humans based on the presence of these agents and seeks to protect the interests of both
  • looks at the long-term effects of environmental and occupational health risks
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental science and protection technicians (including health) are
  • projected to experience faster than average employment growth (20-28%) over the period 2010–20
  • projected to see 19,500 job openings over the period 2010-20
  • considered to work in a green occupation, for which there will be an increased demand for skills in the emerging green economy
Reasons why environmental and occupational health research is important:
  • analyzes environmental risk factors for acute and chronic disease
  • identifies and mitigates or eliminates sources of pollutants and hazards that affect the environment and/or public health
  • collects, analyzes, and reports on environmental data, such as pollution emission; atmospheric, meteorological, and mineralogical information; and soil and water samples
  • interprets correlations between human activities and environmental effects
  • communicates environmental and occupational health-related scientific and technical information to the general public, industry, and organizations and provides guidance and oversight to governmental agencies, environmental protection organizations, industry, and the public
  • reviews and implements formal environmental standards, policies, and regulations
Everyone benefits from research and interventions such as the following, in which the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health is involved:
  • identifying the actions of toxic agents that contribute to respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aging, and carcinogenesis
  • studying the impact of low levels of arsenic in drinking water and how it causes blood vessels to change their appearance, the goal of which is to establish new global standards for arsenic in water
  • evaluating the effect of regulating aflatoxin, the most potent natural liver carcinogen, on liver cancer risk and world food trade
  • examining the relationship of free radicals to serious and often deadly diseases, including heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and arthritis
  • exploring gene mutations that may cause poor lung development in children, making them more vulnerable to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease later in life
  • forming partnerships with individuals and communities to identify the most pressing environmental problems and empowering people to develop sustainable solutions

Graduates of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health are able to:

Master of Public Health

  • understand the processes and pathways of environmental and occupational exposures and how they reach human populations and ecological receptors
  • comprehend the impact of the environment on human health and how it is manifested at the organic, cellular, and genetic levels
  • integrate information from the above into the process of risk assessment to determine science-based health interactions between exposure and disease
  • evaluate engineering, institutional, and behavioral interventions to prevent or control environmental and occupational hazards
  • incorporate community-based participatory research approaches into solving environmental health problems

Master of Science

  • demonstrate basic theoretical background in cellular, molecular, and genetic etiology of environmental disease and disease susceptibility
  • explain direct and indirect human, ecological, and safety effects of environmental and occupational hazards
  • apply basic understanding of genetic and physiological factors that affect susceptibility to adverse health outcomes following exposure to environmental hazards
  • integrate reading of scientific literature to develop testable hypotheses and hypothesis-driven research
  • integrate and apply basic knowledge of exposures and molecular mechanisms of action to investigate hypotheses that address the environmental basis of human disease

Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Environmental Health Sciences

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program in Environmental Health Sciences is designed to provide stimulating, rewarding, hands-on research opportunities for undergraduates considering graduate education in environmental health. As an intern participating in the program, you will conduct an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member. You’ll meet regularly with your faculty mentor to design experiments, review daily journals, discuss research progress, and collaboratively solve research challenges. At the end of the 10-week program, you will present your research findings to faculty members, staff, and current graduate students. You will also receive a stipend for your participation. This program is not held every summer, so be sure to click on the link below for more information. Learn more...
© 2017 by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

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