Fakultät für Gesundheitswissenschaften
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Environmental Medicine

The mutual and complex relationships of human health and the environment become more and more important in politics and society. This development is documented on the one hand by fixing environmental health as one goal of future global governance (Agenda 21, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992 ) and on the other hand by numerous campaigns of the German federal administrations.
Various specific environmental influences on human health are already identified but not sufficiently explored. In our group we investigate this large field of research with a wide interdisciplinary approach particularly focussing on the problems and methods of natural sciences.

Human beings, fauna and flora are influenced by many biotic and abiotic environmental factors within their habitats. The accumulation of different new substances in soil, water and air may affect the human health in two different manners: indirectly by modifying the functioning of ecosystems and directly by contact or intake into the human organism. This applies especially for the development of chronic diseases which are characterized by a long latency between cause and effect of the disease. Our lectures and courses deliver insight in the different public health relevant ecological and biological questions.

Biotic and abiotic factors are increasingly considered as causes for diverse health threats. But often there is only little reliable knowledge about long-term impacts of environmental noxae on human health. Hence, it is important to identify risks for human health and for ecosystems, to estimate the pollution load capacity of our environment and to develop concepts for sustainable avoiding of possible damages. So human ecology is a main content of our lectures.

Further work contents are risk assessments and risk estimations of physical, chemical and biological agents in different environmental media (water, soil, air, food and technical systems) and the development of prevention and control strategies (risk minimization and risk management). Priorities for action are to be assigned on the basis of risk analyses e.g. for political decision making. But for that the medical investigations are only one aspect of the interdisciplinary and complex problems. So we are engaged in assessment, implementation and communication of scientifically acquired results whereas socio-political aspects and research policy play a major role. Several projects are to be treated practically (on-site inspections, excursions, lab), to be analysed and appraised and subsequently presented and discussed in the plenum.

Research focus:
  • Assessment of environmental influences on humans
  • Environmental Burden of Disease
  • Analysis of direct and indirect effects on health by physical, chemical, biological agents, in different environmental media (water, soil, air, food and technical systems) and different life spheres (homes, work places, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, public transportation etc.).
  • Identification of exeptionally vulnerable persons
  • Age and gender specific research
  • Ecology and health