Environmental Health

Cancer can result from many factors inside and outside the body. Those outside the body that interact with humans are considered “environmental.” Environmental factors can include viruses and exposures to radon, sunlight, tobacco, and certain foods. Science continues to reveal the ways environmental factors contribute to the onset of cancer. The more we learn, the more we can reduce exposure to environmental hazards and interrupt the cascade of events that leads to cancers. The Environmental Health Workgroup’s priority is to invest in evidence-based interventions to address environmental risk factors.

Environmental factors are responsible for a high percentage of cancers across all populations. Exposures in early life are of particular concern. Reducing exposure to environmental carcinogens can help to prevent cancers from developing. This can also benefit people who are already diagnosed with cancer.

Reducing environmental exposures will benefit everyone in Pennsylvania, but communities with the highest risk require a particular focus. These include people of color and those with insufficient financial resources who live, work, learn, and play in close proximity to pollution sources. Many in these communities lack the means to make choices that those with more resources can.

Existing workgroups within the Pennsylvania Cancer Coalition have addressed these factors within specific areas of cancer for many years. The Environmental Health Workgroup will focus on factors such as air pollution from manufacturing and vehicles; water contaminants; toxic chemicals in products and services on which people depend; pollutants in workplaces and local businesses; pesticides used at home, in gardens, and in agriculture; and a wide range of chemicals in consumer products and fracking. These and other carcinogens surrounding us are associated with particular types of cancer that may affect any demographic or part of the body. The levels of many environmental chemicals and associated cancers are higher in Pennsylvania than in many other U.S. states.

Reducing the burden of cancer requires diverse collaboration and the adoption of effective interventions in multiple settings. The Environmental Health Workgroup exists to bring together individuals from allied organizations, state agencies, and divisions to work within their respective areas to advance health equity, eliminate disparities, and decrease or eliminate cancer in Pennsylvania.


Meeting Notes:

 April 2014

March 2014

For questions or inquiries, contact:

Dani Wilson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fern Gilkerson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.