South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Building a healthy nation through research and innovation


Environment and Health Research Unit


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Angela MatheeUnit Director: Prof. Angela Mathee

The mandate of the MRC Environment & Health Research Unit (E&HRU) is “to conduct population-based research on environmental risks to health, with special emphasis on those living in poverty.”

The E&HRU comprises a team with expertise in environmental epidemiology, public health, chemistry, medicine, environmental science and nutrition.

"If you want to learn about the health of a population,
look at the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the places where they live."

                                                                                          – Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, in the Fifth Century BC.

The main areas of research currently underway in the E&HRU are:

  • Urbanization and urban health;
  • Lead poisoning prevention;
    • Lead exposure in fishing communities;
    • The relationship between bone lead levels and violent/aggressive behaviour;
    • Trends in lead exposure following the phase-out of leaded petrol;
  • Exposure to environmental pollution
    • metals in the environment (for example lead, mercury, cadmium, manganese and arsenic);
    • pesticides;
    • radon;
    • uranium;
  • the public health implications of heat stress (climate change);
  • the prevalence of hookah pipe smoking in high schools;
  • Food insecurity and procurement.

The E&HRU hosts the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Urban Health (WHOCCUH). The WHOCCUH is a partnership of:

  • The South African Medical Research Council;
  • The University of Johannesburg;
  • The University of the Witwatersrand; and
  • The City of Johannesburg

The over-arching goal of the WHOCCUH is to, through pooling of the expertise and experiences of the partner organizations, conduct research and make recommendations to improve urban health.

The E&HRU and the WHOCCUH are directed by Professor Angela Mathee.
Telephone: +27 11 274 6078
Facsimile: +27 11 642 6832

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Last updated:
29 February, 2016
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