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HEI's Environmental Justice Program

In the United States, traditionally marginalized communities often experience disproportionate levels of environmental exposures and health effects. Recent research as well as federal and state actions have focused a spotlight on these inequities. In response, the Health Effects Institute (HEI), an independent nonprofit organization providing impartial, peer-reviewed scientific research on air pollution and its effects on health to inform policy and decision-making, is launching a new Environmental Justice Program. The program builds on and expands HEI’s research funding model to better understand and meet the needs of historically marginalized communities while addressing environmental inequities.  

Our Mission

The mission of the HEI Environmental Justice program is to facilitate, support, and fund scientific research, special projects, and research translation that advance environmental justice for historically marginalized communities in the United States. These activities involve convening multiple sectors and partnering with communities to find solutions to environmental inequities.

To accomplish its mission, the HEI Environmental Justice Program will:

  • Incorporate environmental justice concepts and principles into HEI’s existing programs.

  • Convene communities, policymakers, academics, and industry to collaborate, share data, and identify solutions to address the drivers of environmental inequities.

  • Develop tools and research translation mechanisms for use in decision making.

  • Create funding mechanisms to support research and other projects focused on the needs of communities disproportionately affected by environmental pollution.


Check out previous and ongoing HEI-funded research on disproportionate effects of air pollution in the U.S.:



Why Focus on Environmental Justice at HEI?

  • There is a need to incorporate new and community-driven research approaches to address the environmental health challenges faced by historically marginalized communities.

  • As an environmental health research funding organization, HEI is uniquely positioned to advance environmental justice.

  • HEI can serve as a convener of multisectoral stakeholders and provide a flexible funding model that incorporates environmental justice principles.


How is HEI Organizing to Address Environmental Justice?

HEI has established an Advisory Council and an Oversight Panel to advance HEI’s environmental justice work. Council and Panel members all have expertise in environmental justice, environmental health, community engagement, and air pollution monitoring or modeling, among other areas of expertise. 

The Advisory Council is a multisectoral group comprised of representatives from academia, community groups, non-governmental organizations, and policymaking. The Council:

  • Provides strategic advice in establishing HEI’s initial EJ research program by identifying highest priority topics and programs where HEI can most effectively advance EJ.

  • Identifies approaches to ensure that the HEI EJ program achieves its mission.

  • Advises HEI on integrating EJ considerations into its other programs, policies, and activities.

The Oversight Panel is comprised of representatives from academia and functions similarly to the HEI Research Committee. The Panel:

  • Develops requests for proposals.

  • Recommends studies and programs for funding.

  • Provides oversight and feedback while studies are ongoing.


Upcoming Events hosted by HEI’s Environmental Justice Program:

Check back for upcoming in-person and online events!