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Environmental Studies

There are substantial concerns regarding the health impact of environmental exposures in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Historically, Pennsylvania has been plagued with numerous human-created environmental challenges including abandoned mine acid drainage and other industrial contamination and degradation, farm runoff, deforestation, and more broadly, structural challenges with local zoning ordinances and use of land and waterways. 

In late 2006, the Geisinger Center for Health Research (GCHR) and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) joined together to form the Environmental Health Institute (EHI). The Institute’s Director is Dr. Brian Schwartz. A cornerstone of our work is the creation of a comprehensive region wide GIS database and related methods that are suitable for creating exposure indices.  The GIS resource is invaluable for efficiently conducting case-control studies of the relation between health and the environment. 

The EHI bridges the creation of knowledge about health and the environment and translating such knowledge into sustainable solutions.  We define the “environment” broadly, to encompass traditional hazardous exposures (e.g., pesticides, metals, air pollution) and more recent areas of interest in environmental health such as land use, and the health effects of the built and social environments in specific communities.