Environmental Health Sciences Glossary

  • Environmental Health Sciences Glossary

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  • Acrylamide - A chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, and baking.

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  • Agricultural Health - The study of environmental, occupational, dietary, and genetic factors on the health of farmers, farm families, and others who work with and are exposed to agricultural chemicals.

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  • Air Pollution - Pollutants in the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet. Can include components such as particulate matter, ozone, or noxious gases.

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  • Allergen - A substance that causes an allergic reaction.

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  • Aloe Vera - A succulent plant widely used in alternative medicine.

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  • Arsenic - A grayish-white element having a metallic luster, vaporizing when heated, and forming poisonous compounds.

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  • Asbestos (noun) - Minerals (as chrysotile) that seperate into long flexible fibers that have been used as fireproof insulating materials.

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  • Asthma - A respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. It usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.

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  • Autism (noun) - A broad range of conditions that affect communication and behavior, usually appearing by age. The CDC reports that autism affects 1 in 54 children.

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  • Biomarker - A defined characteristic that is measured as an indicator of normal biological processes, pathogenic processes, or responses to an exposure of intervention, including therapeutic interventions.

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  • Circadian Rhythms (noun) - Physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things.

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  • Data Harmonization - Refers to all efforts to combine data from different sources and provide users with a comparable view of data from different studies.

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  • DDT - A colorless odorless water-insoluble insecticide.

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  • Dioxin - A highly toxic compound produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching. It is a serious and persistent environmental pollutant.

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  • Ecosystem (noun) - The totality of life within a given interrelated, self-sustaining system existing in a defined geographical area.

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  • Electromagnetic Fields - Invisible areas of energy that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting.

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  • Endocrine - Relating to or denoting glands which secrete hormones or other products directly into the blood.

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  • Endocrine Disruptor - Chemicals that can interfere with hormones at certain doses.

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  • Environmental Justice - The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

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  • Epigenetics - Refers to chemical modifications on DNA or the proteins associated with DNA that affect how genes are turned on and off.

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  • Essential Oils - Concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor of their source and are obtained through mechanical pressing or distillation.

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  • Exposome - Everything the body is exposed to throughout life.

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  • Exposure Science - The study of our contact, such as by swallowing, breathing, or touching, with environmental factors and their effects on the human body.

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  • Extreme Weather - Unexpected, unusual, unpredictable severe or unseasonal weather; weather at the extremes of the historical distribution.

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  • Flame Retardants - Chemicals that are applied to materials to prevent the start or slow the growth of fire.

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  • Formaldehyde - A colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical widely used to make home building products.

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  • Fumigants - A pesticide used to control or destroy fungi on food or grain crops.

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  • Genomics - The study of all of a person's genes (the genome), including interactions of those genes with each other and with the person's environment.

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  • Gestational Diabetes (noun) - A condition when a pregnent woman's body does not make or use enough insulin to manage her blood sugar levels.

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  • Ginkgo Biloba - One of the world's oldest living tree species, which has been used for many years for a variety of medicinal purposes.

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  • Global Change - Changes in the global environment, including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans or other ecological systems that may alter the Earth's capacity to sustain life.

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  • Global Health - The area of study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide.

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  • Grantee - The recipient of a grant, scholarship or fellowship, or some other funding source from NIEHS or other NIH institute.

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  • Greenhouse Gas - Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere.

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  • Hair Dye - Hair Dyes, which changes the hair color, contain many different chemicals that may act as carcinogens or endocrine disruptors.

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  • Harmful Algal Blooms - occurs when toxin-producing algae grow excessively in a body of water.

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  • Health Disparities (noun) - The preventable higher incidence of disease, injury, and violence, experience by disadvantaged populations, when compared to others.

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  • High Blood Pressure - When too much blood is pushing through narrow blood vessels. Can cause damage to the brain, heart, eyes, and kidneys.

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  • Indoor Air Quality - The air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.

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  • Inflammation - The primary host response to infection. Also an essential component of the response to most other forms of injury.

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  • Lupus - A long-term, autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body.

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  • Mercury - A silver-white poisonous heavy metallic element that is liquid at ordinary temperatures and is used especially in batteries, in dental amalgam, and in scientific instruments.

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  • Microbiome - The microorganisms in a particular environment, including the body or a part of the body.

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  • Microplastic (noun) - Extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment from the breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

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  • Mitochondria - Powerhouses of the cell which digest nutrients, converting them into energy for the body.

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  • Mold - A superficial often woolly growth produced especially on damp or decaying organic matter or on living organisms by a fungus.

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  • Mutagen - anything that harmfully changes DNA in a cell, which can lead to diseases, such as cancer.

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  • Nanomaterial - A material having particles or constituents of nanoscale dimensions, or on that is produced by nanotechnology.

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  • Neurodevelopment - Building neurological pathways in the brain to perform cognitive tasks such as learning, focus, and social skill development.

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  • Obesity - A condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage ob fat in the body.

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  • Obesogens - Artificial chemicals believed to contribute to obesity. They are found in various food containers, baby bottles, toys, plastics, cookware, and cosmetics.

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  • Osteoporosis (noun) - A disease that thins and weakens the bones.

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  • Ozone - A colorless, odorless gas. It is found naturally in the earth's stratosphere, where it absorbs the ultraviolet component of incoming solar radiation.

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  • Parkinson's Disease - A progressive disease of the nervous system marked by tremor, muscular rigidity, and slow, imprecise movement.

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  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) - Synthetic chemicals found in many products, including food packaging, household cleaners, and nonstick cookware.

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  • Pesticide - A substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals.

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  • Phenotype (noun) - The observable characteristics or traits of an organism that are produced by the interaction of the genotype and the environment.

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  • Pollen - A fine powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower.

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  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - banned in 1977 because of potential harm to immune and nervous systems, these toxic compounds remain in the environment. PCBs were used in old fluorescent fixtures, some electrical devices, and hydraulic oils.

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  • Promoter - A region of DNA where copying a gene sequence to messenger RNA begins. The promoter region controls when and where a gene of interest will be expressed.

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  • Radon - A colorless, odorless gas. It is produced by the radioactive decay of radium. Found in small amounts in soil, rocks, and the air near the ground.

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  • SARS-CoV-2 - A new coronavirus that is the cause of COVID-19.

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  • Styrene - An unsaturated liquid hydrocarbon obtained as a petroleum byproduct, used to make plastics and resins.

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  • Synthetic (adjective) - Of, relating to, or produced by chemical or biochemical synthesis, especially produced artifically.

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  • Toxicology - The branch of science concerned with the nature, effects, and detection of poisons.

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  • Translational Research - A type of research that explores how scientific work moves into practice and benefits society.

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  • TRAP - Air pollution that comes from fossil fuel combustion in motor vehicles.

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  • Triclosan - An antibacterial used in soaps, cosmetics, clothing, and many other products.

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  • Vaccine - A biological substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide protection against disease.

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  • Vape - The action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

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  • Xenobiotics (noun) - Substances foreign to a body or ecological system

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