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Your Environment. Your Health.

Research Highlights

The vision of NIEHS is to use environmental health sciences to understand human disease and improve human health. Below are some research highlights from NIEHS scientists since its founding in 1966.

Click on the headers below (Date and Title) to sort by year or title. Click on the tags below each highlight to filter by tag, or use the search box to enter a search term.


NIEHS History and Milestones

NIEHS 50th Anniversary History and Milestones

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) has come a long way in the last 50 years making environmental health research responsive to the needs and concerns of the American people, and making environment part of the public health debate. Environmental justice is an everlasting core value for NIEHS research. Preventing disease by acknowledging and managing our environment continues to be a source of motivation and purpose for NIEHS staff and our research partners.

Full Highlight: NIEHS History and Milestones

Tags: environmental, history, justice, milestone


Baby Teeth, used as a Biomarker, Link Autism with Toxic Lead

June 1, 2017 - Baby teeth from children with autism contained more toxic lead and less of the essential nutrients zinc and manganese, compared to teeth from children without autism. Using naturally shed baby teeth, layers of dentine, the hard substance beneath tooth enamel, was analyzed in ways that corresponded to different developmental periods. This innovative NIEHS-funded study suggests that differences in early-life exposure to metals, or more importantly how a child’s body processes them, may affect the risk of autism.

Full Highlight: Baby Teeth, used as a Biomarker, Link Autism with Toxic Lead

Tags: autism, biomarkers, teeth


Gulf Oil Spill Dispersants Associated with Health Symptoms in Cleanup Workers

September 19, 2017 - Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms. These workers were more likely to experience certain symptoms—cough, wheeze, tightness in the chest, and burning in the eyes, nose, throat, or lungs— than those workers not exposed to dispersants. The NIEHS study is the first to examine dispersant-related health symptoms in humans.

Full Highlight: Gulf Oil Spill Dispersants Associated with Health Symptoms in Cleanup Workers

Tags: oil spill


High Exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation

November 1, 2018 - The National Toxicology Program (NTP) found clear evidence that exposure to radio frequency radiation, as in 2G and 3G cell phones, resulted in cancerous heart tumors in male rats. The researchers found some evidence of tumors in the brains and adrenal glands of male rats.

Full Highlight: High Exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation

Tags: cancer, cell phones, radiation


Exposure to Light at Night and Obesity

June 10, 2019 - NIEHS researchers are the first to discover an association between any exposure to artificial light at night while sleeping and weight gain in women. The results suggest exposure to artificial light at night may alter hormones and other biological processes in ways that raise the risk of health conditions like obesity. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Full Highlight: Exposure to Light at Night and Obesity

Tags: obesity

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