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Earth Materials and Health: Research Priorities for Earth Science and Public Health
and antagonistic interactions of contaminants with naturally occurring substances in water, and similar interactions among multiple naturally occurring substances or multiple contaminants, also pose priority research questions.
Improved Risk-Based Hazard Mitigation
Natural earth processes—including earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanoes—continue to cause numerous deaths and immense suffering worldwide. As climates change, the nature and distribution of such natural disasters will undoubtedly also change. Improved risk-based hazard mitigation, based on improved understanding of the public health effects of natural hazards under existing and future climaticregimes, is an important research priority. Such collaborative research should include:
Determining processes and techniques to integrate the wealth of information provided by the diverse earth science, engineering, emergency response, and public health disciplines so that more sophisticated scenarios can be developed to ultimately form the basis for improved natural hazard mitigation strategies. Any assessment of population vulnerability is dependent on the merging of earth science information describing the spatial distribution of hazards with public health information describing population characteristics and medical response capabilities. Effective scenarios to form the basis of improved response strategies must be scientifically valid and believable for broad acceptance by those charged with disaster response planning. The scientific validation will require collaborative involvement of a broad range of experts from the earth science, public health, emergency management, and engineering communities.
Assessment of Health Risks Resulting fromHuman Modification of Terrestrial Systems
Human disturbances of natural terrestrial systems—for example, by activities as diverse as underground resource extraction, waste disposal, or land cover and habitat change—are creating new types of health risks. Research to understand and document the health risks arising from disturbance of terrestrial systems is key to alleviating existing healththreats and preventing new exposures. Such collaborative research should include:
Analysis of the effect of geomorphic and hydrological land sur-