Examining Environmental Factors, Human Health, and Disease

Who’s making sure our environment isn’t making us sick? Environmental and occupational health specialists study the effects of our surroundings—both natural and man-made—on the air we breathe, the water we drink, the noises we hear, and the chemicals we’re exposed to during our daily lives at home and in the workplace.

Our mission in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health is to serve, train, and perform research in vital areas of environmental health. Essentially, we explore the relationship of environmental factors to human health and disease. Through research at the cellular and molecular levels, we seek to assess the health implications of environmental agents and answer the question, how does exposure to certain environmental agents make people more susceptible to acute and chronic human disease?

Our graduates pursue careers in research and environmental health and safety with organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With a graduate degree in environmental and occupational health, you could wind up working in areas of chemistry, biology, or toxicology and collaborating with other professionals like chemists, biologists, geologists, physicists, physicians, and engineers.

Our faculty engages in research focused primarily on respiratory and cardiovascular toxicology, free radical biochemical toxicology, and computational and risk assessment approaches to environmental health. This research does not occur in a vacuum. We frequently interact and collaborate with the basic sciences and clinical departments at Pitt Public Health and the schools of medicine and pharmacy, as well as centers and institutes across the University.


Our department was one of the original four departments in the Graduate School of Public Health upon its founding in 1949. Learn about the evolution of research within the department from its beginnings to today.


The mission of our department is to study and elucidate the health effects of exposure to chemical, physical, and biological agents encountered in the workplace or general environment.

Strategic Plan

Read through the four goals within our department's strategic plan.