About the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities


The Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) was founded in 2004 under a grant from the Heinz Endowments at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. CHEC’s mission is to improve environmental health in Western Pennsylvania through research, collaboration, teaching, advocacy, and community service. We strive to improve access to local environmental health information and to increase public awareness of environmental health issues. We also strive, by working with residents, organizations and agencies, to identify and address environmental health issues of importance to local communities, and so to educate and to empower people to improve the places where they live as well as their own lives and health.

CHEC takes a community-based approach to social as well as physical aspects of local environmental health.  Our focus is on environmental health as it is experienced by people, in particular by people living in low-income communities. Thus, for example, in addition to conventional environmental hazards such as air and water pollution, we consider the health impacts of urban sprawl and "bad neighborhoods” as well as the physical and social environmental conditions that influence smoking and nutrition.  By starting with a broad view of environmental health and helping communities to define and prioritize their own environmental health issues, we believe that we set the stage for the community engagement essential for the success of our efforts.