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Bangladesh Center for Global Environmental and Occupational Health

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The population of Bangladesh faces several environmental health challenges (i.e., water pollution, climate change, and air pollution), which are escalating as public health priorities in the country. The WHO has designated arsenic in drinking water in Bangladesh as the largest mass poisoning event in human history. In addition to toxicity due to water arsenic contamination, millions of Bangladeshis may also be exposed to unsafe levels of other toxic metals including lead, nickel, manganese, uranium and chromium. Evidence suggests that much like arsenic, these toxic metals may contribute to adverse health outcomes including cancer risk, reproductive health outcomes, and cardiac and respiratory health. Additionally, despite the promotion of use of safe water sources, water-related diseases remain an important cause of mortality and morbidity in Bangladesh, some of the most common water related diseases being typhoid fever, bacillary dysentery, and diarrhea. While the overall impact of change in the global climate is still uncertain, is it broadly recognized that areas such as Bangladesh may suffer the most severe impact from climate change due to its impact on agriculture and water scarcity. Finally air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, are a major environmental health concern for the pollution of Bangladesh primarily through exposure to indoor biomass fuels and urban air quality. In an effort to address these public health needs in Bangladesh, we propose the establishment of an international consortium led by the University of Chicago and the International Centre for Diarrheal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) to develop training and research agendas for Bangladesh-based scientists with collaboration of international partners to address these public health crises in the future.
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