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Glossary of health equity in the context of environmental public health practice
  1. Karen Rideout1,2,3,
  2. Dianne Oickle4
  1. 1 Karen Rideout Consulting, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3 Environmental Health Services, BC Centre for Disease Control, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4 National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dianne Oickle, National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), Antigonish, B2G 2W5, Canada; doickle{at}


Health equity is increasingly present as an overarching goal in public health policy frameworks across the globe. Public health actions to support health equity are challenging because solutions to the root causes of health inequities often lie outside of the health sector, and a specific role for environmental public health practitioners has not been clearly articulated. The regulatory nature of the environmental public health profession means that their role is particularly ambiguous. Still, environmental public health practitioners are well situated to identify and respond to factors that contribute to health inequities because of their role as front-line professionals who interact with a wide cross-sector of the population. This Glossary, rooted primarily in the Canadian context but drawing on lessons from elsewhere, describes environmental public health regulatory practice in relation to health equity, including approaches that practitioners can use to contribute to addressing the social determinants of health.

  • environmental health
  • health equity
  • health inequalities
  • public health
  • social factors

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  • Funding We received no grant funding for this work. KR was hired on a contract basis to prepare the manuscript, which is based on her previous work as an employee of the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control. In that capacity, this work emerged from a project titled Through an Equity Lens: A New Look at Environmental Health, which was supported internally by the Provincial Health Services Authority Population and Public Health Primordial/Primary Prevention Projects fund (2014-2017). DO works for the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH), which is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Find out more at

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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