Illustration by Brian Cronin
It’s right before your eyes: The water you drink, the air you breathe, your neighborhood — in other words, your environment — can make or break your health.
A healthy environment is critical to human health: One recent study estimates that air, water and soil pollution cause up to 40 percent of worldwide deaths each year, as well as countless illnesses.
Yet the environment is often left out of medical conversations, in part because the problems are so big and so complicated.
“Because these are societal problems, no one individual can solve the problem on his or her own,” says Barton “Buzz” Thompson, PhD, co-director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “And because the problems are complex, no single discipline can solve the problem on its own.”
The good news is that support for interdisciplinary environmental research and advances in technology to carry out that research are bearing fruit.
“The environment is intimately connected to human health. That’s why the Stanford Woods Institute fosters collaborations between researchers in medical fields and other disciplines,” says the institute’s other director, Jeff Koseff, PhD. “Their work is leading to solutions of some of the world’s most serious health issues.”
Read on to discover how teams are tackling a few of the world’s environmental problems for the sake of our health.