The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) is dedicated to protecting the health of families, children and communities from the effects of pollution and other environmental factors that contribute to chronic disease and disability. By cultivating a diverse, dynamic science-based learning community, CHE strengthens our collective capacity to translate the latest environmental health research into health-promoting programs, policies and practices.
A world in which current and future generations are more capable than ever of reaching their full potential and living healthy, fulfilling, productive lives.
Since its founding in 2002, CHE has fostered numerous interdisciplinary collaborations that have advanced disease prevention and health promotion in significant way. Accomplishments include these:
- Establishing the first major academic program in the US on reproductive health and the environment (housed at the University of California, San Francisco – UCSF);
- Creating an award-winning eBook on multiple contributors to specific health concerns with continuing education credits for health professionals available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- Engaging the President’s Cancer Panel in the first major review of the scientific literature on links between toxic exposures and cancer;
- Educating national learning and developmental disabilities organizations about the emerging science and empowering them to become influential voices in reducing exposures to toxic chemicals through chemical policy reform initiatives and market campaigns;
- Producing over 60 publications, for researchers, health professionals and lay constituencies to better understand new research and how it can be applied in “real world” ways;
- Developing scientific consensus statements that have advanced research on environmental links to a wide range of diseases and disabilities;
- and much more….
Fostering a Vibrant Learning Community
CHE offers more than 5,000 partners in 93 countries and all 50 US states a range of ways to learn about environmental health science and its implications. These include a variety of educational forums to engage researchers, health professionals, health-affected groups, social and environmental justice advocates and other concerned citizens and to encourage respectful discussions around emerging environmental health science. These forums include these:
- Multiple monthly conference calls that feature leading researchers discussing the latest science and its important for the health of current and future generations. Audio-recordings of these have been downloaded over 310,000 times in the last 5 years;
- 20 topical ScienceServs that promote informed conversations about environmental links to a range of diseases and disabilities and actions being taken to address these concerns;
- A highly interconnected and interactive website, making it easy to find the most up-to-date research and analysis about critical environmental health issues;
- A comprehensive news feed for ensuring partners have the latest environmental health research, job postings and event announcements at their fingertips;
- Regular social media posts to highlight current studies on environmental contributors to disease and how they can affect health and wellness.
Using a Systems-Based Approach
To encourage a societal shift from a silo-oriented approach to a systems approach to solving today’s most challenging problems, CHE employs an ecological model of health to demonstrate the complex network of exposures that spans from the cellular level to the societal level and influences our health across the lifespan. This dynamic model includes interactions between chemical exposures, nutrition, toxic stress, socioeconomic status, the built environment, climate change and other factors that can impact human health. CHE partners then use this information to design and support prevention-oriented initiatives and press for more health-protective programs, policies and practices. In addition, CHE effectively encourages professionals in different sectors to reach across disciplines to generate innovative strategies and interventions to better protect public health.
Engaging the Next Generation
CHE invests in educating the next generation of those concerned with environmental and social determinants of health about the multi-faceted and interconnected drivers that can lead to chronic disease and disability. We create opportunities, such as practicums and internships, for college and graduate-level students to learn more about environmental health topics in a systems-based context. Through this mentoring program, CHE nurtures students’ capacity to address the ever-increasing array of complex issues they will face in their careers and become more effective leaders in the field.
Creating a Healthier Tomorrow
As CHE prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2017, our vibrant learning community continues to create the basis and buy-in for developing and implementing prevention-oriented approaches to improve individual and collective health for the long term. Through our pioneering initiatives, we not only raise the level of dialogue on details of environmental health research, we also spur creative, collaborative responses to some of the most critical health concerns today, towards a healthier tomorrow for all.