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Making Connections Between Geohealth Research and Health Policy


Geohealth research flowchart.

Summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors are referred to as Editors’ Highlights.

Source: GeoHealth

The area of geohealth, which involves studying the relationship between environmental factors and their effects on human health, is being established as a distinct scientific field. According to Calder and Schartup [2023], while this type of research is crucial in understanding the potential consequences of pollutants on a specific population’s well-being, it often overlooks important considerations such as economic, social, and health-related trade-offs that could better inform policy decisions.

The writers provide an illustration of fish consumption advisories, which aim to restrict the exposure of vulnerable groups (such as children and pregnant women) to harmful substances like mercury and PCBs commonly found in certain types of fish and seafood. While there is evidence at a population level to support the warnings given by these advisories, it should also be noted that fish and seafood are nutrient-dense foods that are low in fat and high in protein, with proven benefits for cardiovascular and neurodevelopmental health.

Moreover, the warnings may not be easily accessible for the intended recipients due to their placement near bodies of water, language used on the signs, and inadequate communication about which fish species to avoid and which populations are at risk. The writers urge for increased training, funding, and involvement of social, economic, and communication fields in addressing the significant divide between research on environmental health and its impact on public health policies.

Citation: Calder, R. S. D., & Schartup, A. T. (2023). Geohealth policy benefits are mediated by interacting natural, engineered, and social processes. GeoHealth, 7, e2023GH000858. https://doi.org/10.1029/2023GH000858

—Gabriel Filippelli, Editor in Chief, GeoHealth

The logo for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 is at left. To its right is the following text: The research reported here supports Sustainable Development Goal 3. AGU is committed to supporting the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

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