Public Health

Articles, books, statistics, how to cite references, and more information about the multidisciplinary field of public health.

The Best Information Sources for You

Save your time! Use these search techniques:
  • Put quotation marks around PHRASES (two or more words), so that the words are searched together
    --- Example: "chicken pox"
  • Put an asterisk at the end of words, so that you get all of the word endings
    --- Example: high* = high, highs, higher, highest
  • Think of alternate spellings or synonyms
    --- Examples: healthcare OR "health care"; malfunction OR failure
  • Start by putting your search words in the article's TITLE. If you get nothing, you can take them out of the Title and move them to "Anywhere."
See also the Drugs and Pharmacology page on the Biomedical Engineering guide.
Background and General Information
  • Start with -- Information for patients and other laypeople
  • AccessMedicine -- Database of respected medical textbooks. Use this to see what bodily systems are affected by the contaminant, and information about its actions in the the body. (Your searches will give you book chapters.)
Specialized Information

ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is part of CDC)

  • Scroll down to "Most Viewed Toxic Substances" to see if what you want is listed there (do not start with the ATSDR search box; results list is hard to read)
  • If it is not listed there, use the A-Z list (top right) 

DynaMedex -- Drugs and drug interactions, diseases, and much more

PubMed -- Here is the PubMed page on this guide

TOXNET -- This group of databases was retired in December 2019. Here is where to find all of the content that used to be in TOXNET.


Background and General Information
Chemistry (specialized information)

Articles and Databases --> Databases --> Chemistry and Chemical Engineering --> Online Resources

  • All databases under "Core" contain journal articles
  • Databases under "Chemical and Material Properties" are *not* journal articles; for example, CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and Merck Index give synonyms, molecular formulas, where found, and other information
Environment (specialized information)

Start with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Do a search
  • If you get more than about 40 results: use Advanced Search, or put the word in the TITLE

Earth and Environmental Sciences --> Online Resources

  • These databases have scholarly articles and some trade journal articles
  • For articles, start with GeoRef and Scopus
  • Note the other tabs, which list additional databases
Drugs and Pharmacology (link)

[Note: this takes you to a different guide, so remember to go back to this Public Health guide]

  • The tabs on this page include adverse effects, mechanisms of action, and PK/PD
  • Databases listed under each tab also include those from government agencies such as CDC and NIH
  • Databases under the "mechanisms of action" tab include environmental fate and toxicity
PubMed and EMBASE (link)
  • Use PubMed; you won't need EMBASE
  • Do NOT use Google to find PubMed, or you won't see the links to the full text, including FIND IT@JHU
  • MeSH headings give you definitions!
  • Always start by putting your search words in the TITLE -- in PubMed, that means adding [ti] after the word you want in the title

Examples of some of the more helpful filters:

"Additional filters" will give you more choices, such as Article Type, Species, and Language.

Science news can be found in several places.
  • Research guides --> News and Newspapers -- The sources under "Core" are current U.S. newspapers
  • ABI/INFORM -- This is a business database, which includes news about new products and other business-related topics

For law and policy questions, start with CQ Researcher (Congressional Quarterly), which lets you browse topics so you can get an overview.

  • You will find information about broader topics (as shown), rather than your specific chemical or chemical category. But always check for it anyway.

  • SORT -- You can start with the default of "Most relevant" just to see what has been done in the past, but then make sure to change your Sort to "Most recent" ! Your results will be very different.

  • For the most recent law and policy information, check our news sources and some of our law databases. For help, please contact the other Public Health librarian, Jim Gillispie (
The library's guide to Citing Sources gives examples of reference styles.
  • Here is the information about  APA style on the Citing Sources guide

  • When in doubt, always err on the side of too much information rather than not enough; it's extremely important that your professors, readers, and future employers be able to find the information that you cite

For Writing Help -- Make an appointment with

Note: Neither of these places will proofread your work.

RefWorks is the citation manager that is supported by JHU. It is free for you.
  • Citation managers let you export citations FROM databases INTO the manager so that you can put them into separate folders
  • You can also print out a bibliography in whatever style you want
  • Here is our guide about how to use it
Log in to RefWorks here.
  • Here are video tutorials about RefWorks
  • NEVER search from within RefWorks; always search from within the database itself


Your Librarians
Dr. Sue Vazakas -- Whenever you have a question, send me a note any time at

(Truly, any time! I mean it!)

Jim Gillispie -- Law, policy, statistics, and more. Incredibly nice and extremely knowledgeable.