The Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH) Department has a sound reputation as a leader in training students to...

  • Identify agents that affect health
  • Study the long-term effects of environmental and occupational health risks
  • Determine the molecular mechanisms of toxic agents that contribute to the development of certain illnesses and diseases.

Environmental health specialists help find ways to promote healthier environments and minimize risks that increase the incidence of respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal diseases, asthma, lower respiratory infections, road traffic injuries, poisonings, and drownings.
Occupational health specialists study all aspects of health and safety in the workplace. From exposure to toxins on the job, to workplace violence and lifting injuries, occupational hazards create an enormous health burden, unnecessary pain and suffering, and economic loss in the workplace.

Find a research program for your interests

Many EOH faculty members collaborate with basic sciences and clinical investigators throughout other departments at Pitt Public Health, and the University of Pittsburgh schools of medicine and engineering. Students and faculty perform studies on the principles and practice of environmental health ranging from basic research at the cellular and molecular level to applied translational studies of human disease, population exposure, and public health studies.

In addition, faculty and students work with local governmental organizations, such as the Allegheny County Health Department, the Pittsburgh Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to study and improve the environmental health of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pursue a career in environmental and occupational health

Doctoral degree graduates are prepared to work in laboratory-based academic settings as faculty or postdoctoral fellows and become prominent members of government agencies and independent industries. Recent graduates have obtained fellowships at top-tier academic institutions, positions with
the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and in firms conducting chemical and environmental risk assessment.

Master's degree graduates play prominent roles as environmental/occupational health practitioners in various settings, including industry, hospitals, government agencies, and private practice.

Degrees

The EOH Department offers two degrees in the environmental health sciences, providing a broad theoretical and practical education for positions in academia, industry, or government. The multiple tracks provide flexibility in acquiring advance training in toxicology, environmental biophysics, molecular and cellular pathobiology, risk assessment, and exposure science.

Our professional degree program allows students to earn concentrations in environmental health or risk assessment and apply these concepts to public health practice.

 

Ferrar continues to work with FracTracker, driven by the prioritization of public health

VOYAGE LA - "We fill a unique...
Ferrar continues to work with FracTracker, driven by the prioritization of public health

VOYAGE LA - "We fill a unique role. FracTracker Alliance studies, maps, and communicates the risks of oil and gas development to protect our planet and support the renewable energy transformation. We support groups across the United States, addressing pressing extraction-related concerns with a len... (11/04/2019)

Fabisiak among public health experts that flunk report tying PA air quality improvements to gas drilling

DESMOG BLOG - “They indicate ...
Fabisiak among public health experts that flunk report tying PA air quality improvements to gas drilling

DESMOG BLOG - “They indicate that the Clean Air Act works,” said EOH's James Fabisiak, director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, referring to the pollution reductions starting in 1990 shown in CEA’s report. “Air improved by setting stricter ambient air quality standards, cont... (11/04/2019)

Why do people die young here? Maseru project aims to send 'citizen scientists' out to investigate

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - The...
Why do people die young here? Maseru project aims to send 'citizen scientists' out to investigate

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - The cost of being poor can include decades of life. A just-launched partnership between a Homewood-based community group and a University of Pittsburgh research team intends to explore that grim price tag, and to create a corps of "citizen scientists" who could lead the ch... (09/18/2019)

Tyurina finds genetic engineering could open possibilities for Parkinson’s patients

MEDICIAL LIFE SCIENCES -  A t...
Tyurina finds genetic engineering could open possibilities for Parkinson’s patients

MEDICIAL LIFE SCIENCES -  A team of researchers including EOH's Yulia Tyurina unveiled the most promising strategies in applying genetic engineering. The noble method can help study the role of cellular processes in the disease progression, develop new treatment methods and drugs, and estimate thei... (09/16/2019)

Praekunatham promoted to chief of Epidemiology and Public Health Emergency Response

Hirunwut Praekunatham (EOH, '...
Praekunatham promoted to chief of Epidemiology and Public Health Emergency Response

Hirunwut Praekunatham (EOH, '18) was recently promoted to chief of the Epidemiology and Public Health Emergency Response unit under the new Division of Occupational and Environmental Diseases in Thailand. Praekunatham's responsibilities include surveillance of environmental/occupational diseases at... (09/09/2019)

 

Fri
11/15
EOH Seminar Series
Public access to environ health data in Pennsylvania: What are the gaps? What is readily available? EOH Seminar Series
Public access to environ health data in Pennsylvania: What are the gaps? What is readily available?
Fri 11/15 1:00PM - 2:00PM
A719 Public Health

Thu
11/21
EOH Journal Club
Association of Environmental Toxins With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis EOH Journal Club
Association of Environmental Toxins With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thu 11/21 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Fan Wu

Paper: Association of Environmental Toxins With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Authors: Feng-Chiao Su,PhD; Stephen A. Goutman,MD; Sergey Chernyak,PhD; Bhramar Mukherjee,PhD; Brian C. Callaghan,MD; Stuart Batterman,PhD; Eva L. Feldman,MD,PhD

Abstract:
IMPORTANCE
Persistent environmental pollutants may represent a modifiable risk factor involved in the gene-time-environment hypothesis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

OBJECTIVE
To evaluate the association of occupational exposures and environmental toxins on the odds of developing ALS in Michigan.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
Case-control study conducted between 2011 and 2014
at a tertiary referral center for ALS. Cases were patients diagnosed as having definitive,
probable, probable with laboratory support, or possible ALS by revised El Escorial criteria;
controls were excluded if they were diagnosed as having ALS or another neurodegenerative
condition or if they had a family history of ALS in a first- or second-degree blood relative.
Participants completed a survey assessing occupational and residential exposures. Blood
concentrations of 122 persistent environmental pollutants, including organochlorine
pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and brominated flame retardants
(BFRs), were measured using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Multivariable models
with self-reported occupational exposures in various exposure time windows and
environmental toxin blood concentrations were separately fit by logistic regression models.
Concordance between the survey data and pollutant measurements was assessed using the
nonparametric Kendall τ correlation coefficient.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Occupational and residential exposures to environmental toxins, and blood concentrations of 122 persistent environmental pollutants, including OCPs,
PCBs, and BFRs.

RESULTS
Participants included 156 cases (mean [SD] age, 60.5 [11.1] years; 61.5%male) and 128 controls (mean [SD] age, 60.4 [9.4] years; 57.8%male); among them, 101 cases and 110 controls had complete demographic and pollutant data. Survey data revealed that reported
pesticide exposure in the cumulative exposure windows was significantly associated with ALS
(odds ratio [OR] = 5.09; 95%CI, 1.85-13.99; P = .002). Military service was also associated
with ALS in 2 time windows (exposure ever happened in entire occupational history:
OR = 2.31; 95%CI, 1.02-5.25; P = .046; exposure ever happened 10-30 years ago: OR = 2.18;
95%CI, 1.01-4.73; P = .049). A multivariable model of measured persistent environmental
pollutants in the blood, representing cumulative occupational and residential exposure,
showed increased odds of ALS for 2 OCPs (pentachlorobenzene: OR = 2.57; 95%CI, 1.31-5.02;
P = .006; and cis-chlordane: OR = 6.51; 95%CI, 2.05-20.73; P = .002) and 1 PCB (PCB 151:
OR = 1.66; 95%CI, 1.03-2.67; P = .04. There was modest concordance between survey data
and the measurements of persistent environmental pollutants in blood; significant Kendall τ
correlation coefficients ranged from −0.18 (Dacthal and “use pesticides to treat home or
yard”) to 0.24 (trans-nonachlor and “store lawn care products in garage”).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
In this study, persistent environmental pollutants measured in blood were significantly associated with ALS and may represent modifiable ALS disease risk
factors.

Thu
12/5
EOH Journal Club
Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 4 (PRMT4) mediates lymphopenia in experimental sepsis EOH Journal Club
Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 4 (PRMT4) mediates lymphopenia in experimental sepsis
Thu 12/5 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Rushikesh Deshpande

Paper: Protein Arginine Methyltransferase 4 (PRMT4) mediates lymphopenia in experimental sepsis

Authors: Yandong Lai, Xiuying Li, Tiao Li, Yan Chen, Chen Long, Toru Nyunoya, Kong Chen,Georgios D. Kitsios,Seyed Mehdi Nouraie,Yingze Zhang, Bryan J. McVerry, Janet S. Lee,Rama K. Mallampalli, and Chunbin Zou

Abstract:
Onehallmark of sepsis is a reduced number of lymphocytes, termed lymphopenia,that occurs from decreased lymphocyte proliferation or increased cell death contributing to immune suppression. Histone modification enzymes regulate immunity by epigenetically modulating chromatin architecture, however, the role of these enzymes in lymphopenia remains elusive. In this study, we identified that a chromatin modulator Protein Arginine N-methyltransferase 4/Coactivator-Associated Arginine Methyltransferase 1 (PRMT4/ CARM1) that is elevated systemically inseptic patients and experimental sepsis, and is crucialfor inducing T-lymphocyte apoptosis.An E3 ubiquitin ligase SCFFBXO9 docks on PRMT4 via a phosphodegron to ubiquitinate the protein at K228 for ubiquitin proteasomal degradation.  High PRMT4 expression resulted from reduced levels of SCFFBXO9 that led to increased lymphocyte cell death after Escherichia coliorlipopolysaccharide(LPS) exposure. Ectopic expression of PRMT4 protein caused substantially mphocytedeathvia caspase 3 mediated cell death signaling, and knockout of PRMT4 abolished LPS mediated lymphocyte cell death. PRMT4 inhibition with a small molecule compound attenuated lymphocyte death in complementary models of sepsis. These findings demonstrate a previously uncharacterized role of a key chromatin modulator in lymphocytesurvival that may shed light on devising unique therapeutic modalities to lessen severity of septic immunosuppression.