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Environmental & Occupational Health Science

News | December 12, 2019

‘Blue’ space: Access to water features can boost city dwellers’ mental health

Officials are increasingly recognizing that integrating nature into cities is an effective public health strategy to improve mental health. Doctors around the world now administer “green prescriptions” – where patients are encouraged to spend time in local nature spaces – based on hundreds of studies showing that time in nature can benefit people’s psychological well-being and increase…


News | August 1, 2019

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

One of the interesting features of climate change is the warmer it gets, the warmer it will get. Warming global temperatures are often thought of as a one-way street, originating from the exhaust pipe of a vehicle and ending with an uptick on the thermometer. But the Earth has its own regulating factors at work,…


News | June 7, 2016

Access To Nature In Urban Areas Is Key To Healthier Living

Mental illnesses and mood disorders are more prevalent in urban areas partly due to reduced access to nature, according to a new study. Researchers probed the rising tension between the critical role of urban areas and these cities’ debilitating aspects that disconnect people from nature – and even raise mental illnesses. “There’s an enormous amount…


News | August 6, 2020

After three decades, most polluted U.S. neighborhoods haven’t changed

If your neighborhood was among the most polluted in 1981, it probably still is. Likewise, the least polluted areas are still faring the best, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Science that analyzed concentrations of fine particulate matter over more than three decades in the United States. Overall, pollution from fine…


Course | ENVH 461 / CEE 490

Air-Pollution Control

Fundamental concepts of air pollution Control including emission sources, atmospheric dispersion, ambient concentrations, and emission standards, with emphasis on processes and equipment for controlling emissions.

News | August 16, 2018

An Unfair Share: Exploring the disproportionate risks from climate change facing Washington State communities

Everyone in Washington state will be affected by climate change, but race, income and occupation influences how much risk Washington state residents and workers face from climate-related hazards like wildfires, floods and extreme heat. A new report finds that the state’s most vulnerable people are often communities of color, indigenous people and lower-income communities. “Climate…


Scholar

Andy Dannenberg

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News | November 21, 2019

Baking cities advance ‘slowly’ in race against rising heat threat

With urban populations surging around the world, cities will struggle to keep residents safe from fast-growing heat risks turbo-charged by climate change, scientists and public health experts warned this week. Heat is already the leading cause of deaths from extreme weather in countries including the United States. The problem is particularly severe in cities, where…


News | August 19, 2019

Breathing dirty city air is as bad for your lungs as smoking

Even if you’ve never smoked, just living in a city with polluted air could lead to emphysema. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that air pollution—and in particular ozone, which is increasing with climate change—makes the lung disease progress faster. If you live in a city with high ozone levels for a…


News | July 30, 2020

Cities’ summer challenge: Keep people cool while keeping COVID-19 at bay

In the age of social distancing and other efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, cities are grappling with whether to encourage vulnerable populations to leave their homes during extreme heat and congregate under a communal air-conditioning system or stay home and hope that the summer heat doesn’t make them sick. “It’s a hard time…


News | August 5, 2019

City of Vancouver looks west to continue restoration of Burnt Bridge Creek greenway

For decades, Burnt Bridge Creek was little more than a polluted drainage ditch lined by invasive vegetation. The creek flows west for about 13 miles through the city, from its headwaters in east Vancouver, before emptying into a natural wetland near Northwest Lakeshore Avenue and flowing through two culverts into Vancouver Lake. It has a…


Course | ENVH 448

Community Air Pollution

Offers a comprehensive overview of community air pollution including: air pollution sources, chemistry, and meteorology; human health and environmental effects; global warming; air quality standards, monitoring, control, and management; indoor air; and local air quality management.

News | May 7, 2020

Coronavirus pushed Seattle to treat homelessness differently. Will those changes last?

Lola Anderson-Najera finally has a door that locks. After years of weaving in and out homelessness, sleeping “elbow-to-elbow” in shelters and sometimes outside, she’s found a tiny, temporary home. It’s small, but it has a chair to read in, an end table to hold her things, and fresh sheets. Above all, she said, there’s a new feeling of…


News | June 26, 2015

Designing Healthy Cities by Andrew Dannenberg

Presented at the June 1st Urban@UW Launch


News | May 20, 2020

EarthLab announces Innovation Grant recipients for 2020

Research projects funded for 2020 by EarthLab’s Innovation Grants Program will study how vegetation might reduce pollution, help an Alaskan village achieve safety and resilience amid climate change, organize a California river’s restoration with tribal involvement, compare practices in self-managed indigenous immigrant communities and more. EarthLab is a University of Washington-wide institute connecting scholars with community…


Scholar

Elaine Faustman

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Degree Program

Environmental Health (BS, minor, MS, PhD, MPH)

The University of Washington’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health is a great fit for students who love science, and who are passionate about using their scientific skills to address human health issues related to the built and natural environments. Environmental Health is designated as a STEM discipline (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by the…

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News | July 2, 2020

Fearful commuters on trains, buses hold one key to U.S. recovery

Masks are mandatory on subways and buses in Washington. San Francisco is betting longer trains will help riders social distance. Crews disinfect New York’s trains daily — stations twice a day — and are testing ultraviolet light devices to see if they kill Covid-19 on surfaces. As states gradually reopen, transit agencies are taking steps…


News | July 31, 2018

FEMA-style tents as homeless shelters? Maybe, say some King County officials

Three health officials on the King County Board of Health are urging the panel to declare homelessness a “public health disaster” and advise local jurisdictions to respond accordingly — including potentially deploying large scale FEMA-style tents as emergency shelter before winter. Two and a half years after both Seattle and King County declared a state of…


Course | ENVH 220 / GH 220

Global Environmental Change and Public Health

Humans are the primary drivers of global environmental changes that are changing the planet on the scale of geological forces. Students will be introduced to these changes and their consequences for human health and well-being, with a focus on climate change and its consequences.

News | June 25, 2016

Good food, not gone to waste

UW School of Public Health works with city to combat hunger, reduce discards Forty percent of food in the United States—much of it healthy and edible—goes uneaten. It ends up in landfills and produces methane emissions that are 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, more than 48 million Americans…


Course | ENVH 306

Health and Sustainability

Focuses on the intersection of human health and environmental sustainability. Introduces core concepts of sustainability (for health sciences students) and public health (for environmental studies students) and explores the intersections of health and sustainability in specific domains including energy, transportation, the built environment, food systems, and chemicals. Emphasizes a systems thinking approach to formulating solutions.

Course | ENV H 536, URBDP 536

Health Impact Assessment

Examines the use of Health Impact Assessment as a public health tool for informing decision-makers about the potential health impacts of proposed projects and policies. Students learn the steps for conducting HIAs, review case studies, and conduct an HIA of a current local proposed project.

Course | ENVH 443

Housing and Health

Explores healthy and safe homes as a crucial element in public health. Review of federal, state and local approaches to housing-related programs under the banner of healthy homes. Students completing this course will understand the relationship between housing and human health and well-being.

News | March 14, 2017

How future superstorms could overwhelm today’s wastewater infrastructure

The current Seattle rainstorm, and many like it this year, are overwhelming our city’s wastewater pipes, and some sewage may be dumping into the Puget Sound as we speak. But even in a normal year, King County dumps about 800 million gallons of raw sewage into its waterways. That’s because, when it rains too much…


News | April 10, 2018

How Texas is ‘building back better’ from Hurricane Harvey

For most Americans, the one-two punch of last fall’s hurricanes is ancient history. But hard-hit communities in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean are still rebuilding. Nicole Errett, lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, recently traveled with public health students from the University of Washington to southeast Texas, where the impacts of…


News | August 1, 2019

How to consider nature’s impact on mental health in city plans

Almost one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. That statistic is similar worldwide, with an estimated 450 million people currently dealing with a mental or neurological disorder. Of those, only about a third seek treatment. Interacting with nature is starting to be recognized as one way to improve mental health. A number of scientific…


Scholar

Howard Frumkin

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News | May 21, 2020

In Seattle’s polluted valley, pandemic and particulates are twin threats

From a boat on the Duwamish River, it’s easy to see giant yellow excavators plucking crushed cars off the ground and swinging them toward an open-air shredder. At Seattle Iron and Metal, mounds of shredded steel as big as apartment buildings loom above the river. “It looks like something out of Mad Max,” James Rasmussen…


Scholar

Jeremy Hess

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Kelly Edwards

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Kristie L. Ebi

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News | May 28, 2020

Less traffic means 40% drop in car pollution in Seattle but will it last?

Experts say our good air quality this spring is partially due to people driving less. However, they warn that unless big, long-term changes are made, these cleaner skies are not here to stay. From late March through the end of April, car pollution in Seattle dropped by roughly 40 percent compared to the same time…


News | June 12, 2019

Limiting climate change would prevent thousands of heat-related deaths in U.S.

Deadly summer heat will get worse as the globe warms, so putting the brakes on climate change by reducing carbon emissions will literally be a lifesaver for thousands of Americans, a new study co-authored by UW Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences professor Kristie Ebi suggests. In fact, researchers report that limiting global warming could drastically lower deaths in most…


News | November 14, 2019

Livable City Year: Jennifer Otten & Branden Born

Food brings people together. In the case of the academic collaboration between Jennifer Otten and Branden Born, so did food policy. Otten, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and core faculty in the Nutritional Sciences Program within the School of Public Health, met Born, an associate professor in Urban Design and Planning…


News | December 13, 2019

Mapping jet pollution at Sea-Tac airport

Communities underneath and downwind of jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a type of ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft, according to a new University of Washington study that is the first to identify the unique “signature” of aircraft emissions in Washington state. Researchers at the UW Department of Environmental &…


Scholar

Ming-Yi Tsai

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News | May 21, 2019

More back-to-back heat waves will come with climate change

Here’s another health danger climate change will deliver in the coming years: New research warns that back-to-back heat waves that go on for days will become more common as the planet warms. The elderly and the poor will be the least prepared to weather this threat, the investigators noted. But hospital ERs and emergency service…


News | March 6, 2019

New study shows how exposure to air pollution early in life may lead to autism

Exposure to air pollution, particularly traffic-related air pollution, has previously been linked to autism spectrum disorder in epidemiological studies. And now a new animal study from the University of Washington School of Public Health describes a possible mechanism by which this relationship might occur. The study was published Jan. 16 in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. In…


Scholar

Nicole Errett

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News | September 30, 2019

On the ground in disaster’s wake

From flood-damaged Houston to fire-ravaged Paradise, CA, Nicole Errett’s research takes her into the heart of communities trying to recover after catastrophe strikes. As a disaster researcher and lecturer in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Errett works with communities struck by hurricanes, floods and other disasters to gather data on how disasters…


Course | ENVH 439

One Health: Human and Animal Health in a Changing Environment

Case based exploration of the One Health concept, connecting human, animal, and environmental health. Topics include emerging zoonotic infectious diseases transmitted between humans and animals, animals as sentinels of environmental hazards, the human-animal bond, and the comparison of spontaneous diseases between human and animals. Includes two optional field trips.

News | October 17, 2019

Pop-up galleries and data: Visualizing the lives of homeless people and their animals

Sparked by a grant from the UW Population Health Initiative, the UW’s Center for One Health Research created a series of pop-up galleries featuring autobiographical photographs made by people experiencing homelessness with their animal companions. The first gallery was Oct. 4 in UW’s Red Square. Other pop-up gallery events took place in Occidental Square in Seattle’s Pioneer Square district; in Cal…


News | May 5, 2020

Population Health Initiative announces award of 21 COVID-19 rapid response grants

The University of Washington Population Health Initiative announced the award of approximately $350,000 in COVID-19 rapid response grants to 21 different faculty-led teams. These teams are composed of individuals representing 10 different schools and colleges. Funding was partially matched by additional school, college and departmental funds, bringing the total value of these awards to roughly $820,000. “A…


Course | ENV H 538, URBDP 538

Public Health and the Built Environment

Examines how the design of communities and land use and transportation decision have positive and adverse effects on health. Considers built environment impacts on physical activity, obesity, air quality, injuries, mental health, social capital, and environmental justice; and explores interventions to promote healthy community design.

News | May 29, 2016

Quick Recap: Here’s What Happened in May!

May saw a lot of wonderful events, visitors, and research coming out of the University of Washington community. Here’s a quick recap: The CBE PhD Program looked at the future of cities Patricia Romero Lankao visited to talk about the human dimension of climate change Seattle’s “diverse neighborhoods” are actually surprisingly segregated New lighting research…


Scholar

Scott Meschke

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News | July 30, 2020

Searching for climate and inequity hot spots, by car

Fifteen cars with blue snorkels jutting up from their passenger windows drove around King County on Monday, the hottest day the Seattle area has seen in 2020. Volunteer drivers crisscrossed roads from Shoreline to Enumclaw. Their odd window attachments were used to record temperature and humidity measurements every second. Shortly after sunrise, when the city’s…


News | July 9, 2020

Seattle arose from a tortuously transformed Duwamish River

When we think of waters that define Seattle, which ones come to mind? Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, with Lake Washington and Lake Union close behind. Perhaps Green Lake. Don’t forget the Lake Washington Ship Canal. But what about the seemingly invisible Duwamish River, harnessed (some say ravaged) beyond original recognition and poisoned beyond palatability? Shouldn’t…


News | February 28, 2019

Seattle’s minimum-wage hikes increased childcare facilities’ labor costs but not supermarket prices, new UW studies find

Jennifer Otten, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Services, was lead author on a study that found that childcare facilities’ labor costs increased after the wage hikes. She looked at payroll data from 2014 and 2016 for about 200 businesses, surveyed 41 childcare directors three times, and interviewed 15 directors. Otten found that more than half…


Course | ENVH 445

Solid Waste Management

Examination of the public health, environmental, economic, and materials conservation aspects of solid wastes management; amounts and sources of solid wastes, waste reduction and recycling, methods of storage, transportation and disposal, integrated waste management, identification of present problems and future needs.

News | December 9, 2015

SPH Faculty Tap into New UW Effort to Create More Livable Cities

A new University of Washington initiative is thinking “upstream” when it comes to creating safer, healthier and more livable cities. Urban@UW aims to bring together UW faculty, staff and students from different disciplines with city decision-makers and citizens to wrestle with urban issues such as housing and poverty, growth and transportation, and food and economic…


News | June 30, 2020

Study asks Washington state residents to describe food security and access during pandemic, economic downturn

The Washington State Food Security Survey, which went live June 18 and runs through July 31, is open to all Washington state residents aged 18 or over. It was created by researchers at the University of Washington, Washington State University and Tacoma Community College, along with input from partners in local, county and state governments —…


News | March 21, 2019

Study points to grocery store gap, inequity in access to healthy foods in the Seattle area

Seattle neighborhoods that are lower income or that have more Black or Hispanic residents have fewer options for healthy foods, more fast food and longer travel times to stores that sell produce, according to a new study by the University of Washington School of Public Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County, in Washington. The…


Course | ENVH 418 / GH 418

Understanding and Managing the Health Risks of Climate Change

The health risks of climate change are multiple and range across the public health space. Addresses current and projected health risks of climate change and the policies and measures to manage these risks as the climate continues to change.

News | September 27, 2017

UW researchers analyze effects of minimum wage on seattle food prices

Affiliates UW Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Adjunct Assistant Professor in Health Services Jennifer Otten (lead author), UW Professor at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance Jake Vigdor, and Evans School’s Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Public policy and Governance and Adjunct Professor of Economics Mark Long…


News | May 26, 2016

UW-led study pinpoints how air pollution harms your heart

Dr. Joel Kaufman of the University of Washington led a 10-year study of 6,000 people in six cities that found air pollution accelerates deposits of calcium in heart arteries, a known cause of heart attack and stroke. Scientists have known for years that long-term exposure to air pollution raises the risk of heart disease, but…


News | May 2, 2019

UW, WSU community partnership: Improving the health of homeless youth and their pets

Rivals in the sports arena, the state’s two largest public universities have teamed up off the field to improve the health of young adults experiencing homelessness – and their pets. The University of Washington and Washington State University are working with New Horizons Ministries and Neighborcare Health to provide health care and veterinary care to…


Scholar

Vanessa Galaviz

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Course | ENVH 440

Water, Wastewater, and Health

Review of water supply, water quality, and water/wastewater treatment as they relate to human health. Includes water law and regulations, source water protection, basic treatment technologies for water and waste, chemical and microbial contaminants, and recreational water.

News | August 19, 2017

Why Architects should care about public health

Andrew Dannenberg, an Affiliate Professor at the School of Public Health and the College of Built Environments, writes about the importance of architects recognizing human health: while architects have long recognized the importance of human health —including physical, mental, and social well-being — as part of their mission, implementation sometimes reflects a spirit of compliance…


Scholar

William Daniell

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William E. Daniell

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News | April 14, 2020

With more people staying home, Washington skies are cleaner

Since the coronavirus pandemic sent Washingtonians indoors to help flatten the curve of infection, Seattleites who open a window or venture outside for socially distanced nature therapy swear something’s different in the air. “It’s for sure much cleaner,” says lifelong Seattle resident Cathryn Stenson, who has been walking through nearby parks more than normal to take…