Healthy people, healthy planet

Our Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering focuses on the interface between people and the environment. Uniquely situated in a school of public health, our interdisciplinary programs in air quality and atmospheric processes, human exposure and health effects, safe and sustainable water resources, climate change and One Health draw from faculty expertise in the physical and life sciences, engineering and policy.

Coronavirus Affects Everyone: The Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering Responds

Mark Sobsey, PhD, research professor of environmental sciences and engineering, and environmental sciences and engineering alumna Lisa Casanova (’08 PhD and associate professor at Georgia State University), recently helped write a guidance document for the World Health Organization (WHO) on water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for the COVID-19 virus. This guidance is especially critical for water and sanitation practitioners and providers, as well as health care providers who want to know more about water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) risks and practices.

Casanova and Sobsey are also working together on a project to develop and evaluate simple methods to decontaminate masks and respirators that may have come into contact with COVID-19. They hope to get seed funding from the WHO on this effort and are in the midst of seeking supplemental funding from other outlets. The team will be working with Assistant Professor Mike Fisher, PhD, and Research Associate Emanuele Sozzi, PhD, MSc, who are with the UNC Water Institute and now direct the environmental virology and microbiology lab in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering.

An illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals the basic form of the virus blamed for the outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.
Our research strengths include:

  • Characterizing exposures to contaminants in air, water, soil and workplaces
  • Developing engineering and policy solutions to environmental risks
  • Using molecular approaches to understanding diseases caused by toxic substances in the environment
  • Overcoming environmental health challenges in developing countries
Save the Date for our Centennial Celebration (2020-2021).
The official kick-off begins fall 2020. Our centennial celebration will be April 10, 2021.
The official logo of ESE's centennial celebration

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