Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Focus Area

Environmental Health

The environment—the air we breathe, food we consume, and the climate around us—profoundly impacts health. Communities of color and low-income populations are disproportionately exposed to environmental perils, which can contribute to health disparities.

PHI is in the vanguard of protecting health and reducing health inequities by addressing some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time. Groundbreaking PHI studies reveal how exposure to environmental toxins harms health. PHI shows how the built environment—proximity to polluting industries, or to safe streets, parks and grocery stores—can influence whether or not an individual will develop asthma, cancer and other illnesses. PHI educates the public and policy makers about the impacts of climate change on public health.

Supported by a diverse group of funders, PHI offers technical expertise on a broad range of environmental health issues.

Download Environmental Health at PHI: Examples of Impact.



Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) is a nationally recognized leader in transforming public health practice to advance health equity to create healthier communities. It is a collaborative of public health directors, officers, senior managers and staff from the 11 San Francisco Bay Area health departments and the California Department of Public Health.

At BARHII, lessons learned are shared and strategies and resources developed; committees focus on data, community engagement, built environment, social determinants of health, structural racism and building health departments’ capacity.

Learn about Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative projects

Berkeley Media Studies Group

Berkeley Media Studies Group works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the power of the media to advance healthy public policy. To do this, BMSG conducts research to understand how news, entertainment and advertising portray health and social issues. Through media advocacy training and consultation, BMSG helps advocates harness lessons from that research and develop the skills they need to become stronger voices in policy debate and illuminate the need for improving the places where all people live, learn, work and play.

Learn about Berkeley Media Studies Group projects

California Convergence Coordinating Office

The California Convergence is a regionally organized, statewide network that unites community leaders and partners to collectively build equitable, safe and healthy communities where everyone participates and prospers.  Convergence is governed and guided by a statewide, community-led steering committee, with administrative, communication, policy and evaluation-related support from the California Convergence Coordinating Office and statewide partners.

Learn about California Convergence Coordinating Office projects

California Environmental Health Tracking Program

The California Environmental Health Tracking Program emphasizes the development of spatial analysis and visualization methods that enable state-of-the-art systems for predicting geographically related exposures to environmental hazards and relating those exposures to health indicators.

Learn about California Environmental Health Tracking Program projects

California Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OHSEP)

OHSEP, a program of the Occupational Health Branch of the California Department of Public Health, tracks work-related injuries and diseases, studies workplace exposures and health effects, and makes prevention recommendations to employers and employees. OHSEP information is used to improve workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and help identify and treat early work-related injuries and disease. OHSEP focuses on work-related asthma, fatal occupational incidents, pesticide poisoning and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Learn about California Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OHSEP) projects

Center for Climate Change and Health

The Center for Climate Change and Health contributes to building healthy and climate-resilient communities that have the right tools to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Center engages local leaders, community-based organizations, public health and health care workers, scientists, policymakers and civil society in mainstreaming the protection of health across a wide range of policies and sectors. It promotes strategies that effectively address the impacts of climate change on health, while at the same time generating co-benefits from adaptation and mitigation for health and across other sectors.

Learn about Center for Climate Change and Health projects

Child Health and Development Studies

Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) investigates how health and disease are passed on between generations--not only genetically, but also through social, personal and environmental surroundings. Nearly 50 years ago, CHDS enrolled over 15,000 families during the mothers' early pregnancy. Families participated in comprehensive interviews about their health, lifestyle and experiences. Follow-up studies CHDS children, now adults, and on their children, enable CHDS scientists to study health across generations and seek ways to prevent disease early in life.

Learn about Child Health and Development Studies projects

Health Spectrum Program

Using a multi-dimensional emphasis that encompasses geographical, age, gender, socio-economic status, and race and ethnicity categories, the Health Spectrum Program provides issue and policy analysis and reporting; project/program and policy evaluation; training; technical assistance for statewide disease prevention and other health initiatives; and capacity building. The Health Spectrum Program focuses on children's health; health disparities; chronic disease prevention; wellness for leaders and decision-makers; and tobacco-free hospital campuses and patient treatment policies.

Learn about Health Spectrum Program projects

Public Health Alliance of Southern California

The Public Health Alliance of Southern California is a collaboration of leaders from Southern California local health departments, which are statutorily responsible for the health of over half of California’s population. The Alliance addresses regional chronic disease prevention through upstream multi-sector policy and systems and environmental change. Current priority initiatives include multidisciplinary collaborations advancing transportation; food environments; and healthy community data indicators. The regional approach provides a mobilized, collective public health voice to actively promote the health of all Southern Californian communities.

Learn about Public Health Alliance of Southern California projects

Public Health Trust

The Public Health Trust (PHT) works with private attorneys, government agencies and public health organizations interested in using litigation settlement funds to improve public health. PHT manages settlement funds with a focus on transparency and accountability. PHT grantees address a wide range of public health issues from marketing of food, tobacco products, exposure to toxic substances, medication access, and air and water quality.

Learn about Public Health Trust projects

Regional Asthma Management and Prevention Program

The Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program is a collaborative that promotes strategies for reducing asthma through a broad and comprehensive approach that includes clinical management and environmental protection. RAMP brings together diverse partners such as public health and community-based organizations, schools, medical providers, and environmental health and justice groups to join forces in reducing the burden of asthma with a focus on communities inequitably affected by the disease.

Learn about Regional Asthma Management and Prevention Program projects

Roots of Change

Roots of Change (ROC) is a think tank-and-do tank working to ensure emergence of a sustainable food system in California. ROC provides road maps to food movement power and policy victories. ROC has a clear change strategy, an extensive statewide network of change agents and a track record of spawning and leading projects that are transformative because they unify actors to push for progress using multiple intervention points simultaneously. ROC is focused primarily on California because it is a bellwether that can positively influence the nation. 

Learn about Roots of Change projects

Survey Research Group

The Survey Research Group (SRG) conducts population based health-related surveys, using one of the country's most technologically advanced call centers. Since 1987, public health officials, advocates and researchers use the data for: tracking health risks, identifying emerging problems, improving treatment, and evaluating programs. SRG’s mission is to foster health, well-being, and quality of life through rigorous quantitative and qualitative research guided by the principles of equity in health, environment, education and economic context. Read more about SRG's services.

Learn about Survey Research Group projects

Additional PHI Projects