Center for Occupational and Environmental Health
Our mission is to address occupational and environmental health issues through advanced research, teaching, training opportunities and service to the Southern California Community.
The COEH is housed within the Fielding School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the David Geffen School of Medicine. The UCLA COEH is one of three sites within the state of California created in 1978 in response to the outbreak of sterility associated with occupational exposure to the pesticide DBCP in Lathrop, California. During the 1970s there was considerable change in occupational and environmental health legislation including passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and a host of other environmental laws at both the federal and state levels. During that period there was increased public awareness about the hazards of workplace and environmental exposures to toxic chemicals. Additionally, there was a need for professionals with training in disciplines closely associated with occupational and environmental health to implement the new legislation at the governmental and industrial levels. While funds were available for training students in occupational health, the State of California recognized there was a deficiency in the number of faculty in the University of California system whose teaching and research were devoted to occupational health, and it sought to address this need through the creation of the Occupational Health Centers.
Since the 1970s there have been significant changes to the landscape of environmental and occupational impacts as the workforce has changed dramatically over the past four decades. One of the most important changes in occupational health since the seventies has been the recognition of the integral relationship between environmental and occupational health problems. This recognition led to the Occupational Health Centers expanding the scope of their activities by expanding the disciplinary base of faculty participating in the work of the UCLA COEH. Today faculty are contributing to research, training, and education in diverse areas of Epidemiology, Environmental Health Science, Occupational Nursing, and Occupational-Environmental Medicine.
Michael Jerrett, PhD