NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NIEHS/      

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences : Mission

Human health and disease result from three interactive elements: environmental exposures, individual susceptibility, and time. The NIEHS mission is to reduce the burden of human illness and dysfunction from environmental exposures by understanding each element and how they interrelate. NIEHS achieves its mission through multidisciplinary biomedical research programs, prevention and intervention efforts, and communication strategies that encompasses training, education, technology transfer, and community outreach.

The institute has initiated clinical programs that bring the results from the laboratory more quickly to the bedside, and has strengthened its programs in prevention to address the problems associated with environmental equity. NIEHS supports training in environmental toxicology, pathology, mutagenesis, epidemiology and biostatistics, with emphasis on attracting women and minorities. The institute also funds basic and applied research on the health effects of human exposure to potentially toxic or harmful environmental agents.

In its research, NIEHS attempts to learn:

  • The identification and characterization of potentially harmful environmental agents, particularly toxic chemicals

  • How substances affect human health, by studying their impact on a variety of biological systems

  • What happens in these systems after exposure to hazardous agents

  • What diseases are caused or aggravated by environmental factors

  • The extent of exposure of various population groups, especially sensitive populations, to these agents and

  • What effects these agents cause, by themselves and in combination with other environmental factors.

In rounding out these activities, NIEHS supports efforts to identify hazardous environmental agents before they are released into the environment. These include develop-ing, testing, and validating biological assay systems to ascertain animal toxicity and to predict toxic effects which might occur in humans.

Program output is intended to aid those agencies and organizations, public and private, responsible for developing and instituting regulations, policies, and procedures to prevent and reduce the incidence of environmentally induced diseases.


National Institutes of Health