Our Research

Our research places special emphasis on investigating the environmental determinants of health inequities and translating these findings into policies and practices that promote community and population health. Our collaborative, team science research agenda integrates environmental health and community systems science with an emphasis on the physical, social, built, and natural infrastructure that affects health equity. Our work is organized into three domains:

Poster from Convening Ideas Meeting May 2019

Food systems encompass a range of interconnected systems ranging from food production to consumption. Throughout this process, there are many intersections with environmental health. Food is a key vector through which environmental inequities are ingested and produce health disparities. The Swetland Center has a strong research agenda focused on food systems change that is supported by grants from federal, state, and foundation grants. This work is conducted in partnership with community residents, state and local government agencies, and community organizations who are leading innovative food systems changes in the Greater Cleveland area, across the state of Ohio, and nationwide.

Learn more about our food system research by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

Cleveland Skyline
Eric Drost

Cleveland was the “silicon valley” of the industrial revolution leading the nation’s manufacturing industry. Like other Rust Belt cities, this manufacturing focus resulted in economic peaks and valleys as well as increased exposure to pollutants that manifest in environmental health inequities. The Swetland Center has been at the forefront of air quality research through our healthy homes initiatives. Early in the Swetland's history, the center demonstrated that remediation of mold and dampness in housing could significantly decrease the morbidity of asthma in children living in such environments. Subsequently, it has been a leader in demonstrating the clinical value, e.g. decreasing hospitalizations, by addressing the environmental triggers in the homes of asthmatics. The Center continues to be part of a national effort to include environmental and case management home visits within the standard of medical care and funding.

mom is placing face mask on child
Credit: August de Richelieu

The world changed in spring 2020 when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. This had an impact on every facet of our life including how we work and carry out daily activities such as grocery shopping, schooling, going to the doctor, and day-to-day interactions. COVID-19 laid bare deeply rooted environmental injustices and reinforced the need for environmental supports such as access to parks and greenspace, clean air, grocery stores, and safe child care. In response, the Swetland Center expanded its efforts to include a new focus on COVID-19. Our emerging work aims to bring the lens of environmental health equity to research, policy, and practice designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen its impact on children, families, and communities.