Commissioner: Dr. Patrick Breysse, Phd

“…critical need to eliminate all sources of lead from our children’s environment.”

Patrick Breysse is Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Engineering (leave of absence), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering (see full bio below).


Why did you decide to join the Global Commission on Pollution + Health?  

I joined in order to assist in drawing attention to the global pollution problem and the need to address this important source of morbidity and mortality. I have traveled to many countries and have observed and studied the devastating impacts of pollution–from homes using biomass for cooking and heating where the air quality is similar to coal mines;  to asbestos exposures equivalent to those experienced by U.S. workers during WWII,  and pollution from uncontrolled mineral and petroleum extraction contaminating communities across the globe.

What impact will the work of the Commission have? 

Firstly is to draw attention to the problem.  This will hopefully lead to efforts to make pollution prevention a global priority that is given the same level of attention and resource allocation as global efforts to eradicate infectious diseases.

How can we overcome obstacles to progress in the fight against pollution?  What changes do you hope to see in your lifetime?

We need more data to define the extent of the problem and to better quantify the social and economic costs.  I hope to see a bigger focus on children and developmental risks, particularly in vulnerable communities.


Dr. Patrick Breysse is Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Engineering (leave of absence), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Whiting School of Engineering. He is currently the Director of the National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He joined the CDC in December 2014 as the Director of NCEH/ATSDR. Dr. Breysse leads CDC’s efforts to investigate the relationship between environmental factors and health.

Dr. Breysse came to CDC from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health where he is on leave of absence as a professor in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering with joint appointments in the Schools of Engineering and Medicine.  He held leadership positions in numerous research centers including the Center for Childhood Asthma in Urban Environment, the Education and Research Center in Occupational Safety and Health, and the Institute for Global Tobacco Control.

During his 30 years at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Breysse established a long-standing expertise in environmental health exposure science as well as a strong record as a leader in the field. Dr. Breysse collaborated on complex health and exposure studies around the world including studies in Peru, Nepal, Mongolia, Columbia, and India. He has published over 240 peer-reviewed journal articles and is a frequent presenter at scientific meetings and symposia. His research focuses on the impact of indoor and outdoor air pollution on health.

Dr. Breysse received his PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 1985 and completed postdoctoral training at the British Institute for Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is also a board certified Industrial Hygienist.


The Commission on Pollution and Health is an initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with coordination from the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank. Commissioners include many of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health and sustainable development.  

Partnering to Solve Pollution Problems

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