U.S. Geological Survey - Environmental Health

About Environmental Health Science

Environmental Health Venn Diagram
The USGS defines environmental health science as the study of the interactions among the quality of the physical environment, the health of the living environment (all organisms except people), and human health. The overlap represents interactions (human activities and natural processes) that affect the movement of, and exposure to, contaminants and pathogens among these three spheres.


The USGS is a Federal science agency with a broad range of natural science expertise relevant to environmental health. USGS provides scientific information and tools as a scientific basis for management and policy decision making. USGS specializes in science at the environment-health interface, by characterizing the processes that affect the interaction among the physical environment, the living environment, and people, and the resulting factors that affect ecological and human exposure to disease agents.

The new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Environmental Health Science Strategy is one of seven recently released science strategies that span the portfolio of USGS science.

  • Climate and Land Use Change
  • Core Science Systems
  • Ecosystems
  • Energy and Mineral Resources
  • Environmental Health
  • Natural Hazards
  • Water

The Environmental Health Science Strategy summarizes national environmental health priorities that the USGS is best suited to address, and will serve as a strategic framework for USGS environmental health science goals, actions, and outcomes for the next decade. Implementation of this strategy is intended to aid coordination of USGS environmental health activities with other Federal agencies and to provide a focal point for disseminating information to stakeholders.

Vision, Mission, and Goals

The Science Strategy defines a vision, mission, and goals for USGS environmental health science:

Vision – The USGS is a premier source of the environmental health science needed to safeguard the health of the environment, fish, wildlife, and people.

Mission – The mission of USGS in environmental health science is to contribute scientific information to environmental, agricultural, natural resources, and public-health managers, who use that science to support sound decision making. USGS provides the science to:

  • Goal 1 — Identify, prioritize, and detect contaminants and pathogens of emerging environmental concern.
  • Goal 2 — Reduce the impact of contaminants on the environment, fish, wildlife, and people.
  • Goal 3 — Reduce the impact of pathogens on the environment, fish, wildlife, and people.
  • Goal 4 — Discover the complex interactions and combined effects of exposure to contaminants and pathogens.
  • Goal 5 — Prepare for and respond to environmental impacts and related health threats of natural and anthropogenic disasters.
Diagram that shows the relationship among environmental drivers, exposure to disease agents (contaminants and pathogens), and environmental disease.
USGS environmental health science addresses the relationship among environmental drivers, exposure to disease agents (contaminants and pathogens), and the complex responses to contaminant and pathogen exposure that result in environmental disease in wildlife, domesticated animals, and people.

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Page Last Modified: 24-Jun-2016 @ 10:13:32 AM EDT