searchers found a 15 percent decrease in emergency room visits and a 30 percent decrease in hospitalizations for middle-school children with asthma one year after establishing a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, service workers, and school nurses, who worked closely with parents and children to develop asthma management plans. These examples illustrate the benefit of developing community-based approaches for tackling the prevention of environmentally triggered diseases.

One problem in linking environmental and health information has been the lack of sophisticated measurement tools in the environmental sciences. However, I believe that environmental science is coming of age. Scientists now have the capacity to translate information about the human genome into environmental observations and subsequently into scientific fact. The science of proteomics will greatly help us decipher the interaction between our genes and our environment as a result of very elegant informatic and biochemical tools that allow us to translate the effect of environmental factors on protein translation. These new techniques will permit a great leap forward in environmental health. An enormous amount of environmental data has been collected, and we must continue to develop tools to use this information appropriately.

Environmental science is coming of age. Scientists now have the capacity to translate information about the human genome into environmental observations and subsequently into scientific fact.

-Eve Slater

Many challenges still lie ahead as we work to bridge the chasm between environment and health. We must track environmental hazards and diseases in ways that provide accurate information and both inform and empower health policy makers, state and local workers, community participants, and patients. We must strive to develop community-based decisions and eliminate health disparities. We need sound science and working partnerships to meet specific goals—such as quickly controlling the asthma epidemic and eliminating lead poisoning by 2010—and to influence chronic diseases in a more general way. In conclusion, the strong link between environmental factors and health effects indicates that public health leaders must be included whenever environmental issues are discussed.



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