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.

 

Wenzel in Lancet: Intersection of biology and therapeutics: type 2 targeted therapeutics for adult asthma

In a recent article published...
Wenzel in Lancet: Intersection of biology and therapeutics: type 2 targeted therapeutics for adult asthma

In a recent article published in the Lancet, EOH Chair Sally Wenzel found that "the emergence of type 2 biologics for the treatment of severe asthma is a welcomed and much needed advance in the management of patients with asthma. Although a cure for asthma remains elusive, many patients with severe... (02/04/2020)

Goldstein comments on how EPA director Andrew Wheeler is using scientific transparency as a weapon

SALON - The tobacco industry ...
Goldstein comments on how EPA director Andrew Wheeler is using scientific transparency as a weapon

SALON - The tobacco industry may have been the first to recognize that requiring transparency in scientific research could serve as a weapon to defend a dangerous product, but it appears that, in the face of opposition from virtually the entire scientific community, Environmental Protection Agency ... (11/24/2019)

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)

 

Thu
2/27
EOH Journal Club
VISTA is a checkpoint regulator for naïve T cell quiescence and peripheral tolerance EOH Journal Club
VISTA is a checkpoint regulator for naïve T cell quiescence and peripheral tolerance
Thu 2/27 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Qi Wei

Paper: VISTA is a checkpoint regulator for naïve T cell quiescence and peripheral tolerance

Authors: Mohamed A. ElTanbouly, Yanding Zhao, Elizabeth Nowak, Jiannan Li, Evelien Schaafsma, et Al.

Abstract:
Negative checkpoint regulators (NCRs) temper the T cell immune response to self-antigens and limit the development of autoimmunity. Unlike all other NCRs that are expressed on activated T lymphocytes, V-type immunoglobulin domain-containing suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA) is expressed on naïve T cells. We report an unexpected heterogeneity within the naïve T cell compartment in mice, where loss of VISTA disrupted the major quiescent naïve T cell subset and enhanced self-reactivity. Agonistic VISTA engagement increased T cell tolerance by promoting antigen-induced peripheral T cell deletion. Although a critical player in naïve T cell homeostasis, the ability of VISTA to restrain naïve T cell responses was lost under inflammatory conditions. VISTA is therefore a distinctive NCR of naïve T cells that is critical for steady-state maintenance of quiescence and peripheral tolerance.

Thu
3/5
EOH Journal Club
Impacts of climate change on future air quality and human health in China EOH Journal Club
Impacts of climate change on future air quality and human health in China
Thu 3/5 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Emily Nicholls

Paper:     Impacts of climate change on future air quality and human health in China

Authors: Chaopeng Hong, Qiang Zhang, Yang Zhang, Steven J. Davis, Dan Tong, Yixuan Zheng, Zhu Liu, Dabo Guan,
Kebin He, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Abstract:
In recent years, air pollution has caused more than 1 million deaths per year in China, making it a major focus of public health efforts. However, future climate change may exacerbate such human health impacts by increasing the frequency and duration of weather conditions that enhance air pollution exposure. Here, we use a combination of climate, air quality, and epidemiological models to assess future air pollution deaths in a changing climate under Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 (RCP4.5). We find that, assuming pollution emissions and population are held constant at current levels, climate change would adversely affect future air quality for >85% of China’s population (∼55% of land area) by the middle of the century, and would increase by 3% and 4% the population-weighted average concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, respectively. As a result, we estimate an additional 12,100 and 8,900 Chinese (95% confidence interval: 10,300 to 13,800 and 2,300 to 14,700, respectively) will die per year from PM2.5 and ozone exposure, respectively. The important underlying climate mechanisms are changes in extreme conditions such as atmospheric stagnation and heat waves (contributing 39% and 6%, respectively, to the increase in mortality). Additionally, greater vulnerability of China’s aging population will further increase the estimated deaths from PM2.5 and ozone in 2050 by factors of 1 and 3, respectively. Our results indicate that climate change and more intense extremes are likely to increase the risk of severe pollution events in China. Managing air quality in China in a changing climate will thus become more challenging.

Fri
3/6
EOH Dissertation Defense
Travis Lear - Ubiquitin E3 Ligases in Lung Diseases EOH Dissertation Defense
Travis Lear - Ubiquitin E3 Ligases in Lung Diseases
Fri 3/6 1:00PM - 3:00PM
1155 Public Health, Foster Conference Room

Thu
3/19
EOH Journal Club
Human and mouse single-nucleus transcriptomics reveal TREM2-dependent and TREM2-independent cellular EOH Journal Club
Human and mouse single-nucleus transcriptomics reveal TREM2-dependent and TREM2-independent cellular
Thu 3/19 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Yi Lu

Paper: Human and mouse single-nucleus transcriptomics reveal TREM2-dependent and TREM2-independent cellular responses in Alzheimer’s disease

Authors: Yingyue Zhou, Wilbur M. Song, Prabhakar S. Andhey, et Al.

Abstract:
Glia have been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathogenesis. Variants of the microglia receptor triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) increase AD risk, and activation of disease-associated microglia (DAM) is dependent on TREM2 in mouse models of AD. We surveyed gene-expression changes associated with AD pathology and TREM2 in 5XFAD mice and in human AD by single-nucleus RNA sequencing. We confirmed the presence of Trem2-dependent DAM and identified a previously undiscovered Serpina3n+C4b+ reactive oligodendrocyte population in mice. Interestingly, remarkably differential phenotypes were evident in human AD. Microglia signature was reminiscent of IRF8-driven reactive microglia in peripheral- nerve injury. Oligodendrocyte signatures suggested impaired axonal myelination and metabolic adaptation to neuronal degeneration. Astrocyte profiles indicated weakened metabolic coordination with neurons. Notably, the reactive phenotype of microglia was less evident in TREM2-R47H and TREM2-R62H carriers than in non-carriers,

Thu
3/26
EOH Journal Club
Organophosphorus pesticide chlorpyrifos intake promotes obesity and insulin resistance through impac EOH Journal Club
Organophosphorus pesticide chlorpyrifos intake promotes obesity and insulin resistance through impac
Thu 3/26 11:00AM - 12:00PM
4140 Public Health, Young Seminar Room

Presenter: Jenna Kuhn

Paper: Organophosphorus pesticide chlorpyrifos intake promotes obesity and insulin resistance through impacting gut and gut microbiota

Authors: Yiran Liang, Jing Zhan, Donghui Liu, Mai Luo, Jiajun Han, Xueke Liu, Chang Liu, Zheng Cheng, Zhiqiang Zhou, and Peng Wang

Abstract:
Background
Disruption of the gut microbiota homeostasis may induce low-grade inflammation leading to obesity-associated diseases. A major protective mechanism is to use the multi-layered mucus structures to keep a safe distance between gut epithelial cells and microbiota. To investigate whether pesticides would induce insulin resistance/obesity through interfering with mucus-bacterial interactions, we conducted a study to determine how long-term exposure to chlorpyrifos affected C57Bl/6 and CD-1 (ICR) mice fed high- or normal-fat diets. To further investigate the effects of chlorpyrifos-altered microbiota, antibiotic treatment and microbiota transplantation experiments were conducted.

Results
The results showed that chlorpyrifos caused broken integrity of the gut barrier, leading to increased lipopolysaccharide entry into the body and finally low-grade inflammation, while genetic background and diet pattern have limited influence on the chlorpyrifos-induced results. Moreover, the mice given chlorpyrifos-altered microbiota had gained more fat and lower insulin sensitivity.

Conclusions
Our results suggest that widespread use of pesticides may contribute to the worldwide epidemic of inflammation-related diseases.