At the Crossroads: Forging New Intersections Between Environmental and Reproductive Justice Through Research and Advocacy

January 24, 2018
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources


Nourbese Flint: Is Beauty Only Skin Deep

Ami Zota: Forging New Intersections Between Environmental and Reproductive Justice Through Research and Advocacy


Nourbese Flint

Black Women for Wellness

Ami Zota

Bio page on George Washington University Website

NIEHS Partnership in Environmental Public Health: Summary of the Environmental Injustice of Beauty Commentary

Dr. Zota Podcast: Interview with NIEHS on Windows of Susceptibility

Zota AR, Shamasunder B. The environmental injustice of beauty: framing chemical exposures from beauty products as a health disparities concern. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017; 217:418 e1- e6. 

Zota AR, Singla V, Adamkiewicz G, Mitro SD, Dodson RE. Reducing chemical exposures at home: opportunities for action. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017. 

James-Todd TM, Chiu YH, Zota AR. Racial/ethnic disparities in environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals and women's reproductive health outcomes: epidemiological examples across the life course. Curr Epidemiol Rep. 2016; 3:161-80. 

Branch F, Woodruff TJ, Mitro SD, Zota AR. Vaginal douching and racial/ethnic disparities in phthalates exposures among reproductive-aged women: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004. Environ Health. 2015; 14:1-8. 

Adamkiewicz G, Zota AR, Fabian MP, Chahine T, Julien R, Spengler JD, et al. Moving environmental justice indoors: understanding structural influences on residential exposure patterns in low-income communities. Am J Public Health. 2011; 101 Suppl 1:S238-45. 

This webinar is the fifth in our series, 20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health.

Is beauty only skin deep? Many of the conversations about beauty care in progressive spaces frame the issue as superficial and as an afterthought to "real issues" in social justice work. However, the ideas around what is beautiful are political in themselves, steeped in race, class, and gender norms that lift up Western standards of beauty. In the conversation on toxic chemical exposure through use of personal and beauty products, it is necessary to examine how standards of beauty intersect with social norms. Nourbese Flint, MA, Policy Director and Manager of Reproductive Justice Programs at Black Women for Wellness (BWW), highlighted the different areas of toxic exposures from hair and other beauty products experienced by Black women, centering on the very real impacts of how skin color and hair texture can dictate the opportunities available to them. She also discussed BWW’s original research investigating hair stylists’ toxic exposures and their health effects, with a focus on endocrine disruptors, and how BWW’s work ties to policy initiatives calling for more stringent regulation of toxic chemicals in personal care products.

Dr. Ami Zota, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University School of Public Health, discussed her latest work on the Environmental Injustice of Beauty, which reframes beauty product purchasing and related chemical exposures within a social and economic context, thereby bringing it into conversations about reproductive and environmental justice. She also discussed her emerging work on endocrine disrupters, epigenetics, and uterine fibroids to illustrate how the exposome, or external and internal measures of the environment, can be used to address reproductive health disparities. Ms. Flint and Dr. Zota will both addressed the interplay between social inequality, consumer product chemicals, and reproductive health disparities and the urgent need for action to reduce the disproportionate toxic burden faced by the communities explored in their work.

Featured Speakers

Nourbese FlintNourbese Flint, MA serves as the Policy Director and manager of reproductive justice programs at Black Women for Wellness (BWW). There, she directs reproductive and environmental health policy, organizes community advocacy, and manages reproductive and sexual health programming as well as civic engagement.

Before joining BWW, Nourbese studied women’s health in both Spain and Cuba and journalism in Scotland. Nourbese's communication’s background includes serving as Communication Director at the Center of Women’s Health and Human Rights, as well as reporting for KPFK evening news. Nourbese has a Masters of Arts in Women’s Health from Suffolk University, where she specialized in health disparities as it relates to media influence. In addition, Nourbese is a proud alumnus of San Jose State University, where she majored in Broadcast Journalism and African American Studies. Nourbese is a founding member of Trust Black Women, a national coalition dedicated to increasing respect and support of Black Women, and is the co-chair of girls policy for the California Women’s Agenda.

Nourbese also serves on the board of the Black Women’s Democratic Club as the director of communications.


Ami Zota, ScD, MS, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the George Washington University Milken School of Public Health. Her research examines population exposures to environmental chemicals, their effects on women and children’s health, and implications of these risks for health disparities. She received a career development award from the National Institutes of Health for her research on environmental health disparities. She is currently an Associate Editor of Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology and on the Editorial Boards of Environmental Health Perspectives and Environmental Epigenetics.

Dr. Zota is equally committed to developing innovative approaches for science translation so that her research can more effectively be used to inform individual and collective decision-making. Her research has been featured in high-impact national and international media publications including the Washington Post, LA Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, and the Atlantic Monthly. She has helped shape health and safety standards for consumer product chemicals by participating in legislative briefings, providing technical assistance to the NGO community, and communicating science through mainstream and social media outlets.  

She received her masters and doctorate in environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health and then completed postdoctoral fellowships at Silent Spring Institute and UCSF Program on Reproductive Health.


This webinar was moderated by Karen Wang, PhD, director of CHE. It lasted for 45 minutes and was recorded for our call and webinar archive.