The Need for Diversity in the Environmental Health Workforce


Epidemiologic evidence makes clear that the likelihood of exposure to environmental contaminants increases in most poor and underserved communities. Despite progress in reducing a number of environmental risk factors for disease, serious environmental problems persist, and those remaining problems are highly complex. Their solution requires meaningful community engagement as well as a diverse environmental health workforce. Demographic data, and related social and economic developments, strongly indicate that such a workforce must include underrepresented minorities. While the problem has not been solved, select programs have made impressive contributions to meeting this need, an example of which is described in this paper.