Environmental Health News

From the Chair, Summer 2015

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Mike Yost

Michael Yost, Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Photo:

Mary Levin.

The environment in which we live and work greatly influences our health and safety, which is why our department is dedicated to reducing harmful exposures and promoting those activities with positive benefits.

One of the great challenges our planet faces is how to manage the environmental impacts of climate change on human health. The new Center for Health and the Global Environment aims to develop and promote innovative solutions. We are thrilled to partner in this interdisciplinary effort that will promote systems-based approaches to help communities prepare for, cope with, and adapt to a changing climate.

The environment also influences the health of animals. And animals, in turn, influence human health—which can be positive, such as the loyal bond that develops between pets and owners. But also negative, as in the case of avian flu, which has not only affected millions of domestic poultry but also detrimentally affected humans around the globe as well. The Center for One Health Research focuses on understanding the links between humans and animals and their shared environment, as in the case of infectious diseases, in order to develop innovative strategies for a healthy coexistence and prevention of disease transmission.

While many of our research projects are forward-looking, there are others that serve the public by increasing understanding of the long-term effects of pollutants used in the past. We are proud that one of our faculty members served on an Institute of Medicine panel that influenced a decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to extend medical benefits to reservists who worked on aircraft used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam. An area of research that started here in our department as the UW Diesel Bus Study under the late Sally Liu, research that is now being led by other investigators, has been investigating the health effects on schoolchildren after local school buses were upgraded with cleaner fuels. A recent publication highlighted in this issue shows a positive effect from the change.

Sincerely,

Michael Yost
Professor and Chair,
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

 

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