Key Terms and Concepts

Community is an aggregate of persons with common characteristics such as geographic, professional, cultural, racial, religious, or socioeconomic similarities; communities can be defined by location, race, ethnicity, age, occupation, interest in particular problems or outcomes, or other common bonds (adapted from Turnock'sPublic Health: What It Is and How It Works).

Community Health is a perspective on public health that assumes community participation to be an essential ingredient for effective public health practice. It takes into account the tangible and intangible characteristics of the community—its formal and informal networks and support systems; its norms and cultural nuances; and its institutions, politics, and belief systems. 

Comparative Risk, a technical assistance program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a cross-media problem assessment and planning effort that can be applied at the federal, state, local, or watershed level. The comparative risk process brings together diverse stakeholders to reach consensus on which environmental problems pose the most risk to human health, ecosystem health, and quality of life, and to develop consensus on an action plan to reduce those risks.

Environment is where we live, work, learn, and play.

Environmental Health focuses on the health interrelationships between people and their environment, promotes human health and well-being, and fosters a safe and healthful environment.

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, income, or education level, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Health is "a state of complete well-being, physical, social, and mental, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (as referenced in the Institute of Medicine's Future of Public Health).

Indicators are tools for quantifying, through direct or indirect measures, a significant aspect of an environmental health issue. They can be used to assess and communicate the status of and trends in overall environmental health.

Local Public Health Agency is an administrative and service unit of local or state government that carries out the functions of public health in a defined geographic area smaller than the state.

Local Public Health System consists of a wide array of government and government agencies, private organizations and providers, voluntary organizations, and individual citizens working to improve the health of the local populace.

Public Health is the art and science of protecting and improving community health by means of preventive medicine, health education, communicable disease control, and the application of the social and sanitary sciences.

Risk Assessment is the scientific process of evaluating the adverse effects caused by a substance, activity, lifestyle, or natural phenomenon. It may contain some or all of the following four steps: hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk characterization.

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