Public health, environmental and social determinants of health (PHE)

Public health and environment health topics

Health and sustainable development

Well-designed sustainable development strategies across sectors such as transport, housing and energy can lead to multiple gains for health, climate and the environment.

Air pollution

Air pollution continues to pose a significant threat to health worldwide. Many countries around the world do not have regulations on air pollution.

Chemical safety

chemical hazards

Ensures early warning and prevention of harmful effects of chemicals to which humans are being increasingly exposed, and assesses potential risks to human health.

Children's environmental health

Little girl

Child survival and development hinge on basic needs to support life; among these, a safe, healthy and clean environment is fundamental.

Social determinants of health

The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.

Electromagnetic fields


Electric and magnetic fields are part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation which extends from static electric and magnetic fields, through radiofrequency and infrared radiation, to X-rays.

Environmental health in emergencies

Death and disease burden from emergencies, disasters and disease outbreaks associated with environmental risk factors can be significantly reduced by effective prevention, preparedness and response capacities.

Environmental health impact assessment

Environmental health impact assessment

Health Impact Assessment provides decision makers with information about how any policy, programme or project may affect the health of people.

Climate change and human health


Large-scale and global environmental hazards to human health include climate change, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity and much more.

Health and Environment Linkages Initiative

Is a global effort by WHO and UNEP to support action by developing country policy makers on environmental problems to health.

Healthy settings

A strategy for participatory health protection and promotion organized around one setting, such as Healthy Cities, Healthy Schools etc.

Ionizing radiation

nuclear plants

The aim of the Radiation and Environmental Health Programme is to look for solutions to protect human health from ionizing radiation hazards by raising people's awareness of the potential health risks.

Occupational health

occupational hazards

Workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses remain at unacceptably high levels and involve an enormous and unnecessary health burden, suffering, and economic loss.

Quantifying environmental health impacts


The environmental burden of disease quantifies the amount of disease caused by environmental risks.

Ultraviolet radiation

solar radiation

Small amounts of UV are essential for the production of vitamin D in people, yet overexposure may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system.

Water, sanitation and health

WHO works on aspects of water, sanitation and hygiene where the health burden is high, where interventions could make a major difference and where the present state of knowledge is poor.

Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.