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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

February 2016

NIEHS reaches out to earth systems scientists

The January meeting of the American Meteorological Society included a focus on earth sciences and health, thanks to NIEHS involvement.

Representatives from NIEHS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) participated in the Jan. 10-14 American Meteorological Society (AMS) annual meeting in New Orleans. The society’s goal is bring together physical, chemical, and biological studies of the earth, to help policymakers and the public make informed decisions.

NIEHS Senior Advisor for Public Health John Balbus, M.D., chaired a Jan. 11 session that featured a keynote address by Karen DeSalvo, M.D., HHS national coordinator for health information technology and acting assistant secretary for health. DeSalvo addressed studies that support understanding of the impacts of urban growth and climate variability on health, adaptation, and resilience.

Pointing out the central themes of her presentation, Balbus noted, “The talk raised a number of critical issues, including overcoming the complacency of the health sector and at-risk individuals to the risks of extreme weather, finding innovative ways to use health data to enhance preparedness and health resilience, and fostering collaboration between multiple sectors of society.”

Reaching across disciplines

Balbus, who chairs the AMS Board on Environment and Health, participated in a lunchtime panel discussion following DeSalvo’s talk. He also co-chaired a Jan. 13 session on connecting earth sciences and health in the classroom, along with John Moore of the AMS Board on Outreach and Precollege Education.

Among the featured speakers at the event was science educator Dana Haine, a member of the NIEHS-funded Superfund Research Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her presentation addressed “Climate and Health Connections: Strategies for K-12 Teachers.”

Earth systems sciences range from meteorology and hydrology, to geophysics and oceanography. As Balbus explained, earth systems science relates to the Disaster Research Response Project, which spans the National Institutes of Health, as well as a number of NIEHS programs and strategic plan goals. These include NIEHS initiatives in climate change and vulnerable populations, environmental justice, ocean health, and global health.

This year’s annual meeting drew more than 3,700 attendees, setting a record for attendance.

(Eddy Ball, Ph.D., is a contract writer with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

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