Environment and health

Globally, approximately 13.7 million deaths a year are linked to environmental factors. Australia faces unique environmental challenges due to our geography, population growth, and extreme weather events. These events and other human-related contributing factors influence the environment we live in, affecting air and water quality, housing and sanitation, exposure to chemicals, food quality and security, all of which impact upon our wellbeing and risk of disease.

The School of Public Health seeks to unravel how the environment shapes our health, and to inform public policy to reduce environmental drivers of disease. Our researchers facilitate appropriate public communication approaches, assist in developing effective risk mitigation strategies, and contribute to the development, implementation and evaluation of local, regional and global health systems and programs.

We investigate how exposure to environmental risk factors affect public health, and develop effective adaptation strategies to emerging challenges such that our findings can rapidly translate into public policy and public communication strategies.

Our researchers have expertise across a diverse range of areas spanning greenspace, allergens, pathogens, chemical contaminants (such as pesticides, PFAS, tobacco and vaping chemical exposure), water-associated diseases, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH), and the interface between the human-animal ecosystem (One Health).

The health effects of climate change are diverse and pose a major threat to the health and well-being of Australians. Research at the School is focussed on responding to the urgent need to provide government and industry with a clear, robust evidence base to make informed policy decisions that will mitigate the physical and mental health impacts of climate change. Our researchers hold specific expertise in mental health, diet and food security, environmental sustainability, sociology, priority populations, infectious diseases and vaccine uptake, and local, regional and global health systems and programs.