China and the Environment Program


Brian Lederer

Tongzhang Zheng

Yawei Zhang

Theodore Holford

With over 1.3 billion people, China is by far the most populous country in the world. The rapid economic development experienced across China during the past 3 decades has in turn led to dramatic changes in local environmental conditions, dietary intakes, nutritional status, and other lifestyle factors in the contemporary Chinese population. China today faces a myriad of vast environmental pollution and deterioration issues. The country currently not only has the all of the world’s most polluted cities, but also has widespread water pollution due to unprecedented levels of untreated industrial discharges.

Facing the grave consequence of the rapid environmental deterioration, the Chinese government has taken major measures for environmental protection and pollution control. The Division of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) at Yale School of Public Health is dedicated to improving global health and addressing environmentally–related health issues, and thereby has been participating in China’s struggle against environmental pollution and other health concerns. The EHS, by collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer of World Health Organization, has established a collaborative research and environmental health professional training program with the following institutions in China: Health Human Resources Development Center of the Chinese Ministry of Health, The Chinese National Institute of Environmental Health and Related Product Safety, and several provincial governmental institutions (including Gansu Provincial Maternal and Child Health Hospital, Taiyuan Center for Disease Control, Xiamen Center for Disease Control, and Zhengzhou University).

Ongoing Efforts

  • Fogarty International Center Training Grant to train over 200 environmental health scientists in China.
  • A prospective comparative study of the health impacts from exposure to four different types of outdoor air pollution in four of the largest Chinese cities.
  • Air pollution intervention for Beijing Olympics and its impact on air quality and human health in Beijing.
  • Multicenter birth cohort study investigating the relationship between early life environmental exposures and reproductive health and childhood and puberty development in Lanzhou, Zhengzhou and Taiyuan. Participating women are being recruited during their first trimester of pregnancy and their children will be followed through their 18th birthday.
  • A multicenter case–control study of liver cancer to determine the relationship between serum levels of organochlorides and risk of liver cancer.
  • China Physician and Nurse Cohort Study. This is a prospective follow–up study which will eventually involve about 250,000 health workers in China to study various environmental exposures and lifestyle factors and risk of human diseases.

Future Projects

  • Work with the China National Cancer Center to train scientists to undertake cancer prevention and control activities in China through Fogarty International Center Training program.
  • Additional studies are being designed to examine the relationship between temperature changes and mortality, the impact of air pollution on chronic disease in women ages 50 to 65, and the link between air pollution and respiratory health in elementary school–age children.
  • Establishment of the Yale–China Center for Epidemiology at YSPH.