According to the Association of Environmental Health Academic Programs, “environmental health professionals are on the frontline of confronting these challenges, challenges that range from addressing climate change to inspecting sewage treatment facilities.” This means that different aspects of our natural and human-made environment can and will impact our health. It can be seen in individual causes of cancer to e coli outbreaks from in bags of spinach. In the environmental health branch of health care careers, you could help prevent illness and injury by creating a healthy environment. Below are the professions of this career branch.
Advocate for public health
Environmental health advocates are public health officials who work to increase awareness about the health topics that develop in the environment or were created via a manmade invention.
An example of an environmental issue would be that of the Zika virus, a virus spread by animal/insect bites or by unprotected sex. Environmental health advocates provide facts that the population needs to protect their health through community-based mosquito control and public education programs.
An example of a man-made issue that affects our population is that of the health side effects from cigarettes. Some environmental health advocates tackled this issue via the Truth campaign. The aim of this public health campaign is to use facts to dissuade people from trying cigarettes and getting addicts to quit.
Monitor environmental issues
Environmental health practitioners are dedicated to protecting public health by monitoring and recommending solutions to reduce pollution levels. This includes air, soil, water, hazardous waste, noise and radiological pollutions. These professionals keep communities ranging from villages to countries safe from the bacteria and toxins that lurk in our environment. By focusing on pollution, they’re able to impact the quality of life for citizens, whether it be through the air we breathe or the water we drink.
Prevent foodborne illnesses
Food safety specialists ensure that food that is provided and sold to the masses is that of quality and is safe to consume. One of the focuses of these professionals is to prevent foodborne illness. They enforce proper methods of production and farming and confirm the imported foods meet the standards of the USDA. The more we rely on others to provide our food, the more we need food safety specialists to ensure that we can safely consume the products we keep stocked in our kitchen and order at restaurants.
Keep homes and workplaces safe
Built environment specialists monitor the safety of buildings and assess basic structural soundness of those buildings. They check for evidence of poor maintenance, infestations, fire hazards, blocked exits and other potential health concerns. They conduct routine and problem-focused inspections of structures; routine inspections mean verifying that a building is actually safe and problem-focused inspections happen when a complaint has been filed or the inspector has a reason to believe a structure is unsafe.
Do you want to learn more about these health care careers? Check out our profile of these professions here.