Environment and health

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Environment and health

1. Current Status
With the rapid development of global economy, environment remains to be one of the crucial factors which influence human health worldwide. According to the WHO report, about 24% global disease burden and 23% global death toll are resulted from environment factors. 4 million children can be saved by preventing the environment risks such as unsafe water and air pollution. 13 million people worldwide can avoid death by improving the environment. According to the report Cost Caused by Pollution in China conducted by Chinese government and World Bank in 2007, the annual loss of health and non-health caused by outdoor air pollution and water pollution is about 100 billion dollars, which is about 5.8% of China’s GDP. Air pollution alone can cause 178,000 deaths in metropolises, 350,000 respiratory outpatient cases and 6,800,000 emergency cases. Environmental factors are seriously affecting people's safety and quality of life. 
Chinese government exerts much effort on protecting environment. Protecting environment has been listed into China’s basic state policy early in 1980s. However, due to the rapid development of economy over recent three decades, environment problems that emerged in accordance with different phases of the industrialization in developed countries have all emerged in a sudden in China, which are characterized by serious compound pollution, wide scope, large-scale and long term exposure, high exposure level and difficulty in eliminating the effects the accumulated pollution do to health in a short time. Since 1990s, China has never conducted any environmental health research nationwide or on a large scale. It is difficult to conduct the health risk assessment of polluted environment due to the lack of basic data. The existed environment laws related to health and environment are unfeasible, and there is no legal system and standard system which accord with the needs of environmental health work. A research gap in benchmarking and environment management system related to environmental health exists. Therefore, the research hotspots of environmental health in China is related to environmental health policies and regulations, monitoring, forecasting, emergencies, health survey and environment risk assessment.


2. Achievements
2.1 Research on environmental health policy and regulation
The lab has positively participated in national and regional legal construction related to environment, and has participated in drafting more than 10 national and regional policy and regulation.
2.2 Research on monitoring, forecasting and emergency of environmental health
Resource and Environment Information System and Environment and Disaster Monitoring and Forecasting of Small Satellite Constellation and Disaster Reduction Application System have received sponsorship from The National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars and The National Disaster Reduction Committee respectively. A series of important projects including a Key Project of the National Eleventh-Five Year Research Program of China represented by Technical Research and Equipment Development of Fluorine and Arsenic Removal in drinking water of towns in central China have been undertaken.
2.3 Research on environmental health risk assessment
The lab takes the lead in conducting the relation research among asbestos induced mesothelioma, lung cancer and oncogeny activation. Using gene chip to screen for differential Gene Expression induced by benzene. The exogenous inducer of CYP4F3 has been proved and its biomarker has been screened to be the risk evaluation criteria of benzene exposed in the environment.


3. Content and Interests
3.1 Research on environmental health policy and regulation
Study the standard system framework related to environmental health, including technical specification of risk assessment, division of risk prevention and control, grading technical specification, and international comparison of related technical specifications. Based on the environmental health management of developed countries, the lab will study the basic management system, and work out a feasible risk management system, compensation system and information disclosure system.
3.2 Research on monitoring, forecasting and emergency of environmental health
By using the data from satellite remote sensing, atmosphere and ground monitoring, the lab will study the collecting of environmental data and data standardization technology, and establish a mathematical model of data processing and analysis. Following aspects are included: biological monitoring technology of population related to pollutants in typical regional, quick identification technology of health risks caused by environmental pollution, evaluation and forecasting technology of environmental health of different types in different areas.
3.3 Research on environmental health risk evaluation
Following aspects are included: survey the pollutants related to environmental health and develop its screening technology in important regions and watershed; human exposure assessment method of air and water pollutions; the mechanism and dose of heavy metals and toxic and harmful organic pollutants acting on human health; prospective cohort study of how air pollution acts on human health and the key technology of risk assessment; health risk assessment technology of heavy metals; risk division of environmental health; grading technical specifications.


4. Features
The scope of environment and health are so wide that it ranges from related laws and regulations, technical manual, the research of management system to technical methods including monitoring, early warning and emergency of environment, from the risk assessment of exposure in a large population to the research of mechanism of exposure pollutants in micro, so as to bring the subjects of law, informatics, medicine, bioscience highly interdisciplinary and then into a special subject. At the same time, the lab has cooperated with some academic institutions such as Duke University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Hawaii and the National Institute for Environmental Studies of Japan, in order to form an international research team and undertake projects together. The achievements will not only provide theoretic support for environment department but also serve for global health by international comparative research for the developing countries whose nation condition are similar to ours.


5. Goals
5.1 To construct a series of framework of standard system of environment health which is adapted to our national conditions, especially in the classification technical specification of prevention and control of health risk and the human exposure limits of pollutants, so as to provide technical support for the policy of environment department. To form a set of standardized methods about data collection of sky-earth integration. Based on the risk assessment of environmental exposure and the research achievements of environment investigation, the lab will realize real-time forecasting and early warning of the environment exposure risks step by step.
5.2 5-10 national tasks and 1-3 international tasks are expected to be undertaken and 1-3 SCI articles are expected to be published within 3 years.

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