symposium 2017 v4

On Friday, April 28, 2017 public health scholars, community groups, and social scientists gathered at Rutgers University to discuss the many issues facing rural, urban, and racial and ethnic communities facing environmental health risks. This symposium featured a keynote address from Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. 

The event was organized by was organized by Norah MacKendrick of the department of sociology at Rutgers University, recipient of a Junior Faculty Workshop Award from the Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the School of Arts and Sciences

The Issue

From detection of lead leaching into the public water supply in Flint, Michigan, the discovery of perfluorinated compounds in community wells and drinking water supplies across the country, to everyday concerns about chronic exposure to compounds in food and consumer products – environmental contaminants and their effects on health are fast becoming a pressing concern among residents and communities.

As individuals learn more about the contaminants in their air, water, soil, food and consumer products, they raise important questions: 

  • What contaminants are we putting into our environment, food and consumer products, and how do we assess their safety?
  • How do we enforce our right to know what chemicals go into our bodies?
  • How do we protect ourselves from chemicals, particularly in communities already suffering from multiple social, economic and political inequalities?
  • Most importantly—and the subject of this symposium—how can social and health scientists collaborate to move the field of environmental health research forward to support environmental justice?


The following Rutgers sponsors made this symposium possible: