The Collaborative for Women’s Environmental Health at Columbia
The Collaborative for Women’s Environmental Health at Columbia University is a multidisciplinary endeavor that aims to accelerate a healthy, sustainable, and equitable environment for women and their families around the world. Through research, education, community engagement, and sustainability efforts, we work from a global perspective to establish a healthier environment for current and future generations.
Why Women's Environmental Health?
Women’s health across the life course is inextricably and increasingly linked with environmental contaminants and climate change. Women are also key decision makers and advocates for the health of their families, playing a critical role beyond the narrow lens of the reproductive years. Because environmental exposures not siloed by national borders, we approach our work from a global perspective.
Some examples of women’s health concerns with environmental links include obesity, cancer, infertility, aneuploidy, reproductive wastage, congenital anomalies, obstetric complications, childhood neurodevelopment, menstrual irregularities, endometriosis, and aging. For many of these conditions, our ability to treat or prevent them is limited, and outcomes are getting worse, not better. We aim to address environmental contributions to disease and disparities and minimize exposures, particularly within communities disproportionately exposed or made vulnerable.
It is essential that clinicians engage with public health experts, researchers, activists, and policymakers to take bold action before it is too late. We need to create healthy, sustainable, affordable food options, ensure safe drinking water, and protect the air we breathe for future generations to come.
What We Do
Education: Increase environmental health literacy
- Increase environmental health literacy and awareness among clinicians providing care to women across their lifetime, policymakers, and the general public
- Translate rapidly expanding women’s environmental health science into relevant information for practicing clinicians and the public
- Offer consultation to individual patients and/or their clinicians around specific reproductive or women’s environmental health exposures and concerns
Research: Expanding our understanding of environmental impacts on women’s health
- Investigate impact of the environment on disparities in women’s health
- Engage in solutions-based research on environmental topics driven by community priorities
- Train next generation of women’s environmental health scientists
Community Engagement: Advocating for healthier environments in partnership with the community
- Partner with community-based organizations to eliminate inequities in environmental exposures relevant to women’s health in Northern Manhattan and beyond
- Connect established NY community-based Environmental Justice organizations with global women’s initiatives advocating for healthier environments for their families worldwide
- Advise and influence governments & legislatures about environmental policies impacting women’s health locally, regionally, globally
Sustainability: Enhancing resiliency and promoting sustainability in face of climate change
- Complete disaster preparedness plans for Labor and Delivery, NICU, nursery, inpatient gynecology units to be utilized in setting of extreme weather events (flood, heat, storms, power outages)
- Serve as leader in hospital wide efforts to reduce carbon emissions increasing sustainability
- Educate clinicians and public about impact of climate change on women’s health
Housed within the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. This initiative will be complementary and additive to extraordinary efforts underway by other schools within Columbia University and undertaken in partnership with:
- Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia
- Columbia Climate School (including The Earth Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society)
- Climate Resources for Health Education Initiative
- Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education
- Community organizations in Manhattan focused on environmental health/justice, including We Act for Environmental Justice
Clean Cooking Fuels to Improve Health during Pregnancy. Blair J. Wylie, M.D., M.P.H., and Kwaku P. Asante, M.B., Ch.B., M.P.H., Ph.D. November 10, 2022. N Engl J Med 2022; 387:1805-1807. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe2212362