About EPA

About the Environmental Public Health Division (EPHD) of EPA's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory

Investigating wildfire smoke emissions and public health impactsInvestigating wildfire smoke emissions and public health impactsResearching links between air pollution sources and health outcomesResearching links between air pollution sources and health outcomesWater quality research to protect public healthWater quality research to protect public health

What We Do

The Environmental Public Health Division performs integrated epidemiological, clinical, animal and cellular biological research and statistical modeling to provide the scientific foundation in support of hazard identification, risk assessment, and standard setting for the purpose of protecting public health and the environment. Division research includes an integrated program to assess the impact of environmental exposures on human health and the impact of environmental actions and decisions on public health outcomes.  Examples include research to validate biomarkers of exposure and effects, population-based and human clinical studies and complementary animal and in vitro toxicology studies assessing the health effects of pollutants as well as the non-chemical stressors that can modify biological responses and clinical outcomes to environmental exposures.

Programs and projects managed by the Environmental Public Health Division (EPHD)

  • EnviroAtlas – EPHD scientists are instrumental in the statistical design and integration of geospatial data for the EnviroAtlas which combines maps, analysis tools, fact sheets and downloadable data into an easy-to-use web-based resource for ecosystems. 
  • Environmental Quality Index (EQI) – EPHD scientists developed an overall environmental quality index for all counties in the U.S. incorporating data representing air, water, land, built and sociodemographic environments.
  • Honey Bee Citizen Science – EPHD scientists are assessing the effect of environmental chemicals on pollinator health.  The end product of this project will be a comprehensive Web-based platform for commercial interests and hobbyists to share information and honey samples with EPA researchers.
  • Wildfire Project – EPHD scientists are identifying health effects of wildfires and constructing a vulnerability index to identify communities at greatest risk.  As well as, assessing the health impacts of wildland fire smoke in healthy and at-risk populations.  Under an Intra-agency agreement with the Department of the Interior EPHD scientists are studying the health effects of the combustion emissions of different types of wildland fuels.
  • Clinical Cohort Studies – EPHD scientists are using large cohorts in collaboration with Duke Exit and Harvard Universities as well as the German Helmholtz Institute to identity the modifiable and non-modifiable risks that can affect the progression and severity of cardiovascular disease associated with exposures to environmental pollutants. 
  • Neighborhoods – EPHD and NCEA scientists in collaboration with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are identifying neighborhood characteristics and social determinants that impact environmental health outcomes. 
  • Identification of Interventions – EPHD scientists are identifying social, dietary and behavioral interventions that can reduce the health burden from environmental pollutants.
  • Health Outcomes of NAAQS Pollutants – EPHD scientists are assessing the local and regional characteristics of air pollution that influence public health impacts in healthy and at-risk populations. This project will inform which regional mixtures have greater health impacts, assess the health risks of short-term and long-term exposures, and the risks of neonatal and early life exposure on development of chronic disease; and guide research on developing a strategy to study epigenetic changes.


Wayne Cascio, Director