Environmental health

Research in environmental health focuses on the assessment and control of the health effects caused by exposure factors occurring in the environment. Central themes relate to microbes that cause infectious diseases and hazardous chemical substances found in our environment, as well as the development of the control of such environmental exposure factors as part of environmental healthcare.

The environment is an important element of the common health of all living organisms, and humans as part of that community benefit from the purity of the soil, water and air of their habitats. Human communities are also responsible for utilising natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way.

From among our research themes, the molecular epidemiology and environmental virology of zoonoses, or infectious diseases spread through interaction between different species, explore the traits and routes of transmission of microbes that cause diseases in humans and occur in the environment. Water is a key route for microbial exposure, and our water-related research is aimed at developing techniques for identifying contamination in water resources and ensuring the quality of water. In terms of antimicrobial resistance, our research focuses on the development of resistance against pharmaceutical agents in microbes and looks into the role of the environment, humans and animals in the creation and spread of antimicrobial resistance. The research in environmental toxicology conducted at the department focuses particularly on the mechanisms of action of dioxins, which supports the risk assessment of dioxins and similar chemicals. Our research is aimed at improving the prevention and control of adverse health effects in humans caused by a range of environmental exposure factors.

Through research, we strive to respond to the topical demand for knowledge pertaining to environmental health, supporting decision-making in environmental healthcare. We also investigate control measures employed in environmental healthcare and assess their impact. The selection of our research topics is guided by the goal of supplementing official activities with the help of research that supports decision-making. In order to realise our principle of applying research-based knowledge in decision-making, we are closely cooperating with various expert and research institutions as well as the authorities. This goal is effectively supported by the roles of members of the department’s research groups shared with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Finnish Food Authority. We operate as part of the Helsinki One Health network.