Ted Shettler, MD, and Sharyle Patton

The Ecological Paradigm of Health

Ted Schettler, M.D., is unquestionably one of the most eminent science educators in the field of environmental health and justice. Dr. Schettler talked with Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center Director Sharyle Patton and Michael Lerner about the ecological paradigm of health, a truly “holistic” science-based way of thinking about how the environment affects our health integrating factors including socioeconomic status, nutrition, stress, chemical exposures, and much more. Most studies of these factors isolate them, but the truth is we all swim in a soup of mixtures with unknown biological consequences. Dr. Schettler is Science Director at the Science and Environmental Health Network and at the Collaborative for Health and the Environment.

Ecological Paradigm of Health


Ted Schettler, M.D., M.P.H.

Ted is an authority on environmental links to reproductive and developmental disorders, neurotoxicity, and other public health problems. He is the science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, and science advisor to Health Care Without Harm, an international campaign in support of environmentally responsible health care. His books Generations at Risk: Reproductive Health and the Environment (MIT Press, 1999) and In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development (Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2000) describe what scientists know and suspect about environmental causes for a host of disorders from learning disabilities to cancer. They also describe the great uncertainties and the limits of science in establishing links between cause and effect.

Sharyle Patton

Sharyle is director of the Commonweal Health and Environment Program and directs the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center, a program that helps geographical and non-geographical communities learn more about the tool of biomonitoring. She also is director of special projects for the Collaborative on Health and Environment, a Commonweal-sponsored network that seeks to raise the level of awareness about possible linkages between environmental threat and health outcomes.