Environmental Factor – May 2022: EHP at 50 – keeping up with the development of science – Advice Eating

In 1972, just a year into his tenure as director of NIEHS, David Rall, MD, Ph.D., launched a publication called Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). In the half century since then, the scholarly journal – still supported by the Institute – has evolved into a premier venue for research and news in the fields of environmental toxicology, environmental epidemiology, exposure biology and measurement, risk assessment and related policy development and assessment. The journal, now published monthly, is fully open access, which means that all content is freely available worldwide.

(Image courtesy of EHP)

The early issues of EHP included the minutes of conferences hosted by NIEHS “as a means of assessing the current state of knowledge [on current environmental problems] and potential human health implications and identification of research that should be conducted,” states the NIEHS Annual Report for Fiscal Year 1972–1973. These early themes are a reminder that some health threats remain a concern today.

  • phthalate ester.
  • heavy metals.
  • Asbestos.
  • Chlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans.

EHP will continue to publish conference proceedings to ensure “maximum communication of research results,” the report said. “The reactions of Perspectives readers show that our efforts in this direction are successful.”

Reliable research underpins solutions

“Since its inception, the journal has been based on the idea that increasing the availability of information about the environmental health sciences is essential to solving environmental health problems,” noted editor-in-chief Joel Kaufman, MD, in one Editorial for the anniversary. “Our focus remains consistently at the interface between the environment and human health, and the development of the journal reflects the impact NIEHS has had in advancing the science underlying environmental decision-making.”

EHP First cover, April 1972 Early issues of the magazine had a monochromatic cover and a classic 1970s vibe. (Image courtesy of EHP)

The research shared on EHP’s pages – whether in print or online – continues to support improvements in environmental and health protection, as illustrated in the journal’s new interactive timeline (see sidebar above).

  • The first issue was dedicated to research on polychlorinated biphenyls, which were banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency just seven years later. The EPA proposed updates in 2010, citing EHP publications among the references.
  • In 1981, the Journal published Proceedings of the first Symposium on Environmental Epidemiology—six years before the founding of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology.
  • 1994 first knowledge about Endocrine disrupting chemicals hit the stands.
  • Changes to National Ambient Air Quality Standards to reduce ozone and combat exposure to particulate matter cited nearly a dozen EHP papers.
  • The EPA restricted the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in June 2000. By then, the EHP had published more than 50 articles — including news, reviews, and original research — on the widely used chemical.

Since 2018, editors have been helping researchers and readers find studies on hot topics by inviting experts to join them curating collections on topics ranging from developmental toxicology and the microbiome to environmental racism and indigenous health. Two other collections highlight the yearbook Journal Impact Factorwhich has risen to 9.031 with a five year impact factor of 10.776.

Joel Kaufman Kaufman is a professor in the Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health, Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Washington (UW), where he served as Interim Dean of the UW School of Public Health from 2016-2018. (Photo courtesy of Joel Kaufmann)

This year for the first time annually Editors’ Choice Collectionthe science editors presented research that fills in data gaps, uses innovative techniques, presents the breadth of topics covered by EHP, and has other notable features.

New ventures for new times

In January 2021, staff held a virtual strategic stakeholder summit to update the magazine’s vision, mission, and goals. The results can be seen in already existing initiatives as well as some initiatives still in progress.

  • youth initiative — An advisory panel is entering its second year guiding the organization in empowering the next generation of environmental health researchers.
  • Global focus — The journal’s longstanding collaborations with researchers and policymakers around the world are now focused on actions that nurture an innovative, diverse, international community of contributors. According to Kaufman’s editorial, later this year the journal will announce a new platform for the work of environmental health scientists in low- and middle-income countries.
  • New article types — In addition to Invited Perspectives and Research Letters, which were first published last year, EHP will soon issue guidelines for new review types covering advances in basic research and innovations in methodologies.

“EHP has been a pioneer and trailblazer in the environmental health sciences for decades,” said Rick Woychik, Ph.D., director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program. “I am very excited about the new directions that the journal is taking.”

“Help us celebrate this anniversary,” Kaufman wrote. “Let us know how we’re doing. And keep sending us your best work.”

(Kelly Lenox is Associate News Editor for EHP and former Editor-in-Chief of the Environmental Factor.)

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