Who We Are

APHA’s Environment Section is a community for those working to create, restore, and sustain healthy environments for all through research, practice, and advocacy. 

Brief history

As the fourth Section of APHA, the Environment Section was born in 1911. First named the Engineering Section, it officially became the Environment Section in 1970.  


The Section has had too many notable leaders to list them all here, but some past and present leaders include: 

  • Larry Gordon, Past President, American Public Health Association 
  • John N. Balbus, Interim Director, Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, National Institute of Environmental Health Science
  • Charles Lee, Senior Policy Advisor, US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Leyla McCurdy, Chair, Climate for Health Leadership Circle; Board Member, Children’s Environmental Health Network
  • Nse Obot-Witherspoon, Executive Director, Children’s Environmental Health Network
  • Sacoby Wilson, Associate Professor University of Maryland-College Park, Director, Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health Initiative

Over the last 100+ years, the Section has published countless policy statements. As the nation was first considering how to address environmental issues with policies at the federal level, the Section weighed in with statements including Air Pollution Control, Solid Waste Disposal, and Drinking Water Supplies —all in 1965. Later the Section put forth statements on issues including lead poisoning, children’s health,  climate change, health in  schools, persistent organic pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, among many others. Most recently, the Section passed statements on urgent issues including: 

Mission 

Today, through our work in APHA’s Environment Section, we aim to:

  1. Advance the field of environmental health as a vital  component of public health.
  2. Engage in equitable partnerships to address environmental racism.
  3. Support the public in their ability to find, understand, and use environmental health science. 
  4. Advocate for scientifically-informed  programs and policies  that protect environmental health and promote environmental justice.

Priorities

Today, the APHA Environment Section works to achieve this mission by:

  • Creating opportunities to connect scientists, agency representatives, non-profit and grassroots leaders, and others working together towards environmental health and justice.
  • Supporting environmental health professionals with opportunities to engage and learn throughout their career—from students to mid-career professionals  to retirees.
  • Developing APHA policy statements to advocate for evidence-based solutions to major environmental health issues.
  • Convening topic committees to deepen expertise, advance dialogue, and take action on specific environmental health issues. including children’s environmental health, climate change, environmental justice, water, noise, and chemicals.
  • Preparing and sharing information about environmental health science and policy in plain language to increase reach and accessibility.
  • Organizing a robust scientific program for the APHA Annual Meeting and Expo, with sessions on climate change and public health, food and environment, the built environment, environmental racism and more. 
  • Elevating public health’s most pressing issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate justice, to ensure all public health professionals  recognize their role in addressing environmental health inequities, which disproportionately impact Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities.