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Earth Materials and Health: Research Priorities for Earth Science and Public Health
presented for the public health community and basic human physiological concepts are presented for the earth science community.
The committee decided that the report could best highlight the state of knowledge by focusing on the interactions between earth science and public health through the public health reference frame—that is, through human exposure routes. The committee organized these sections of the report into what we breathe (Chapter 3), what we drink (Chapter 4), and what we eat (Chapter 5). Public health interactions with earth perturbations, both natural (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) and anthropogenic (e.g., extractive industries), are described in Chapter 6. In these separate sections, the committee employs specific examples to focus on, and highlight, the state of present knowledge. These considerations of cause and health effect resulting from exposure to earth materials give rise to a range of research priorities for each exposure pathway—in each case, those that have been identified by the committee require active collaboration between researchers from both the earth science and the public health communities. The role of geospatial information—geological maps for earth scientists and epidemiological data for public health professionals— is recognized as an essential integrative tool that is fundamental to the activities of both communities (Chapter 7), and a number of suggestions are presented for mechanisms to promote and enhance collaboration (Chapter 8). Finally, the committee presents a series of conclusions and recommendations, based on the opportunities for research collaboration described in Chapters 3 through 7, which are designed to enhance integration of the earth and public health sciences (Chapter 9).