Environmental science is the study of the interactions among the physical, chemical and biological components of the environment; with a focus on pollution and degradation of the environment related to human activities; and the impact on biodiversity and sustainability from local and global development. It is inherently an interdisciplinary field that draws upon not only its core scientific areas, but also applies knowledge from other non-scientific studies such as economics, law and social sciences. Physics is used to understand the flux of material and energy interaction and construct mathematical models of environmental phenomena. Chemistry is applied to understand the molecular interactions in natural systems. Biology is fundamental to describing the effects within the plant and animal kingdoms.

While the concept of environmental science has existed for centuries, it came alive as a substantive, active field of scientific investigation in the 1960s and 1970s driven by (a) the need for a large multi-disciplined team to analyze complex environmental problems, (b) the arrival of substantive environmental laws requiring specific environmental protocols of investigation and (c) the growing public awareness of a need for action in addressing environmental problems.

Environmental science encompasses issues such as climate change, conservation, biodiversity, groundwater and soil contamination, use of natural resources, waste management, sustainable development, air pollution and noise pollution. Due to the inherent interdisciplinary nature of environmental science, teams of professionals commonly work together to conduct environmental research or to produce Environmental Impact Statements, as required by the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or under state laws. There are professional organizations that engender work in environmental science and aid in communication among the diverse sciences.