Environmental Epidemiology Program


The Environmental Epidemiology Program works to keep people safe from harmful chemicals and to help them live in wholesome environments that promote healthy lifestyles. We respond to questions about the human health impacts of environmental pollution. We collect surveillance data on acute chemical releases and poisonings. We investigate sites where people may be at risk of chemical exposure and recommends actions to keep people safe. Daily, we assist residents with a wide variety of questions to them maintain safe and healthy homes.  We also promote designing healthy places to improve the quality of life for all who live, work, study or play in Tennessee.

The Environmental Epidemiology Program supports all 95 counties in Tennessee. We work with our local, regional and metropolitan health departments as well as with other state agencies like the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The majority of EEP’s funding comes through a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).  We also work on environmental projects with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Over the years, we have provided assistance to concerned citizens, local governments, and legislative officials.

Environmental Exposure Investigations

Environmental pollution from hazardous waste sites can harm human health. Tennessee has an active Partnership to Promote Localized Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure, or APPLETREE Program.  We work in partnership with ATSDR. Based on environmental data, program staff members perform environmental investigations and prepare public health assessments, health consultations, exposure investigations, community involvement activities and technical assistance. These reports evaluate exposure to present conclusions, make recommendations and plan corrective actions. Our work is commonly reviewed by the federal ATSDR to ensure that it is based on sound science and national guidelines. Our list of publications to view or download includes public health assessments, consultations, fact sheets and other reports.

Choose Safe Places

Our Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education program protects the youngest Tennesseans at their child care facilities.  To enable safe siting, we screen child care locations to check for proximity to know sources of environmental hazards or pollution.  To assist child care businesses we provide suggestions for operations.


Healthy Homes Website

Environmental hazards in the home harm millions of people each year in the United States. A healthy home can prevent illness and injuries. A healthy home is designed, built and maintained to support health. EEP promotes Healthy Homes – a coordinated, comprehensive and holistic approach to preventing diseases and injuries that result from housing related-hazards and deficiencies.

A healthy home reassures health and wellness by preventing illness and injury. Our Healthy Homes Website presents topics like mold, radon, lead, carbon monoxide, mercury, pesticides and unintentional injuries. It has tips for every room in the home as well as information for home owners and renters. Learn The 8 Principles of a Healthy Home and you can promote good health and wellness for you and your family.

Curious about who contacts TDH about substandard housing concerns and why? Our Healthy Homes Dashboard tracks 10 years of calls and emails we've received from across Tennessee.

Healthy School Environments Website

EEP gets asked how to make schools safer, cleaner, and greener places for children and adolescents to learn.  The Healthy Schools Website is a collection of ideas, examples, and resources.  Learn more about indoor air quality, head lice, nutrition, and safer cleaning chemicals for schools.

Healthy Places Website

EEP encourages communities to be designed with opportunities to maintain active, healthy lifestyles. We understand the value of performing Health Impact Assessments (HIA) to evaluate the potential health effects of a plan, project, or policy before it is built or implemented. The Healthy Places Website is a great resource for information about active transportation, land use, healthy buildings, environmental quality and recreation.

Environmental Health Topics

EEP provides education and community involvement for persons interested in or affected by exposure to hazardous substances. We provide general information on a variety of environmental public health topics. Click the links for topics such as asbestos, lead, mercury, mold, ozone or radon.

Environmental Public Health Tracking

EEP correlates environmental exposures to hazardous substances with adverse health effects in populations as a part of CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.  CDC's Tracking Program has laid the foundation of this national system by providing grants to state and local health departments.  Tennessee has been a fellow in CDC’s EPHT Network of integrated health, exposure and hazard information and data from a variety of national, state and city sources.  Our goal is to share health, environmental, and demographic data in one online site.

Toxic Substance Incidents

Toxic substance incidents can result in death, illness or injury. Such events frequently require public health protective actions such as evacuations, in-place sheltering or decontaminations. Until 2016, Tennessee’s National Toxic Substance Incidents Program performed acute chemical exposure surveillance through CDC’s National Toxic Substance Incidents Program. EEP collected information on toxic substance or harmful materials incidents. These materials include chemicals, radiation, and naturally-occurring matter that could cause harm to people or the environment.

Climate Change

EEP recognizes the public health implications of global climate change.  Planning and building resilient communities helps people get back to normal living and economic conditions after severe weather, accidents or natural disasters.  Read more about climate change and public health by clicking the tabs on this webpage.