Introduction to Environmental Health and Policy

Environmental health is a vast, highly interdisciplinary field within public health that focuses on the connections and interactions between people and their environment across several facets. The field extends beyond analysis of the natural environment and investigates where we live, what we eat and drink, how and where we work, and the relationships we have with other parts of our ecosystem. Environmental policy and regulations that impact health are formed and enforced across several levels of government, from local to federal, and vary widely from state to state. With such a high degree of intersectionality, it’s important to understand what falls under the purview of environmental health, what policy entities regulate and influence environmental factors that impact health, and where there are opportunities for policy improvement.

In this briefing, experts overviewed what comprises the field of environmental health and its corresponding policy, outlined the major players at the state and federal level, and highlighted immediate policy opportunities. Panelists also discussed how health disparities and inequities are tied to environmental factors and offered thoughts on how to close policy gaps.


  • Lynn Goldman, M.D., M.S., MPH, Michael and Lori Milken Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
  • Richard J. Jackson, M.D., MPH, Professor Emeritus, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
  • Keshia M. Pollack Porter, Ph.D., MPH, Vice Dean for Faculty and Bloomberg Centennial Professor, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Kathryn Santoro, MPP, Director of Programming, NIHCM (moderator)