Environment and Health

NRDC's Environment and Health Program has worked for over two decades to safeguard families and communities by reducing exposures to toxic chemicals that cause disease. And although we've seen substantial progress in public health over the past generation, certain environmentally linked diseases, such as asthma, autism, and some types of cancer have increased. To address these and other challenges, we are focused on these key areas:

Healthy, Sustainable Food

From promoting sustainable agricultural practices to eliminating pesticides and other harmful contaminants in food, NRDC is working to transition to healthier food systems. Our Growing Green Awards honor those who successfully advance these goals. We continue to step up the pressure on government agencies, such as the FDA and EPA, to protect the safety of our food supply and consumer products, including working to reduce mercury in fish, stopping the unnecessary use of antibiotics in livestock, and reducing the use of dangerous pesticides.
Key issue areas: sustainable food, Growing Green Awards, mercury, pesticides, Fix the FDA, antibiotics, eat local

Safe Drinking Water

Safe water is essential for health. NRDC is working to ensure that everyone has access to clean and affordable drinking water, from cleaning dangerous toxins like pesticides, hexavalent chromium, and rocket fuel out of our drinking water to replacing deteriorating pipes and mains that run underneath our roads. We are also working to address the impacts of global warming on drinking water and improve access to safe water supplies internationally.
Key issue areas: safe drinking water, bottled water, global sanitation and access to freshwater, impacts of global warming on safe drinking water, water filters, perchlorate, hexavalent chromium, atrazine, lead, home water filters

Chemicals in Your Home

Our Take Out Toxics and Fix FDA campaigns are aimed at the most toxic chemicals that surround us every day, from bisphenol A in food containers and baby bottles and triclosan in hand soaps, to flame retardants in household furniture and hormone disrupting phthalates in toys. By working to reform outdated laws and update scientific assessments, we seek to restrict the use of toxic chemicals associated with cancer, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. We are also working to reduce the use of toxic pesticides in homes to protect children and pets through Green Shield and Green Paws. NRDC is focused on protecting children's health as well as the most vulnerable among us.
Key issue areas: toxic chemicals, TSCA reform, Fix the FDA, BPA, phthalates, flame retardants, triclosan, Green Shield, Green Paws, chemical index

Global Pollution

Pollution from other countries contributes to our air quality problems and can enter our food chain. Our Clean by Design campaign works directly with manufacturers abroad to adopt environmentally sustainable business practices and green their supply chain. We are also working with the United Nations on a treaty to reduce global mercury use.
Key issue areas: Clean by Design, global mercury treaty, international issues

Climate and Health

Climate change is one of the most serious public health threats facing the nation, but few people are aware of how it can affect them. Check out our climate maps to discover your community's vulnerability to climate-related events. NRDC is working simultaneously to prepare for and help address the impacts of climate change, such as worsening air quality, extreme heat, and more frequent extreme weather events. As we work to stop climate change, we are also developing policies to minimize human suffering.
Key issue areas: climate health vulnerability maps, extreme weather, global warming

Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is associated with over one million deaths and countless illnesses each year across the globe. We are working to clean up toxic hotspots including major industrial polluters as well as dirty diesel transportation hubs. Our goal is for all children to be able to play outside without fear of asthma attacks or stunted lung growth -- and for all communities to enjoy safe and healthy air quality, eliminating the race and income gaps in access to clean air.
Key issue areas: diesel soot, port pollution, power plants, industrial pollution, environmental justice

Defending Scientific Integrity

Protecting health requires high-quality science that is free from conflicts of interest. NRDC scrutinizes the qualifications of scientists appointed to key government advisory boards to assure they are free from financial conflicts of interest and to uncover biases. We have persuaded major scientific journals to improve disclosure of funding sources when they publish studies. We defend independent scientists who are unjustly attacked by polluting industries because their study results threaten a lucrative chemical or product. We expose industry tactics to delay scientific assessments and regulation of chemicals of concern. NRDC scientists serve on numerous scientific advisory boards, have faculty appointments at universities, and publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

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Health Explained

Toxic chemicals in our environment, such as mercury, lead, and certain manmade chemicals, have been linked to cancer, birth defects and brain impairments. Reducing or eliminating the load of these dangerous chemicals in the products we buy, the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink can help reduce the toll of human disease and suffering.

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