We believe environmental health research should be a collaborative, non-hierarchical process between the community and scientists.
In February 1994, President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 (1), which charged 11 federal agencies with developing policies and procedures to address the disparate impact of environmental hazards on communities of color and low-income populations.
On that same day, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) hosted an Interagency Symposium On Health Research Needs to Ensure Environmental Justice in Arlington, Virginia. This momentous conference resulted in an expressed appreciation of the importance of community involvement in setting and implementing research agendas to address environmental justice issues.
Communities and Science are Stronger Together.
That day, the scientific community acknowledged that increased attention and funding were needed to effectively respond to egregious health disparities by race/ethnicity and social class, the disproportionate burden of pollution across communities, the impacts of multiple and cumulative exposures—including the potential for synergistic effects—and the special concerns of susceptible populations, including children, the immuno-compromised, and the aged. Scientists and community leaders agreed to work in partnership to prioritize research needs, gather data, assess environmental exposures, and test interventions to influence public policy in order to protect the environment and the health of all, including those living in communities of color and places that are economically exploited.