Environmental Health Practitioner

Environmental health practitioners work to reduce pollution and other environmental hazards which threaten public health. There are many pollutants and other toxins that are frequently discovered in populated areas. Environmental health practitioners are responsible for identifying risks and organizing efforts and lobbying elected officials to eliminate and reduce harmful pollutants.

Environmental health practitioners often specialize as:

  • Air quality experts – monitor harmful pollutants emitted into the air and allergens that adversely affect health;
  • Soil specialists – conduct tests in regions with high contamination levels;
  • Hazardous and solid waste professionals – develop strategies to improve garbage disposal and reduce toxic waste disposal;
  • Noise abatement specialist – develop methods to reduce loud noises from factories, airports, and major highways;
  • Radiological assessors – monitor nuclear power plants and facilities where nuclear testing is conducted for dangerous levels of radiation.

Work Environment

Environmental health practitioners work for government agencies and companies in the private sector to develop policies to reduce and eliminate harmful pollution. Although they typically spend most their days inside offices, they frequently travel to schools, contaminated environments, and other regions to conduct inspections and monitor pollution levels. Many manufacturing companies and companies responsible for disposing of toxic chemicals hire environmental health practitioners to make sure they comply with state and federal environmental regulations and workers are safeguarded from risks. After oil or toxic chemical spills, these specialists are often assigned to conduct investigations, determine public health risks, and assist with cleanup efforts.

Environmental health practitioners employed by state health agencies are often required to investigate complaints and identified environmental health hazards. Those specializing in food safety oversee safe food handling certification programs, while those specializing in housing respond to complaints about bug infestations and other environmental concerns. Environmental health practitioners responsible for soil and water pollutions inspect farms and drinking water sources.

Education and Training

Environmental health practitioners usually hold bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering, hydrology, biology, public health, chemistry, and other science related fields. Many online schools offer online degree programs in public health. Those with master’s degrees in environmental engineering or health enjoy better job opportunities. While in college, it’s advantageous to complete internships. While selecting a public health degree program, choose one accredited by the National Environmental Health Sciences and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC). Public health agencies and private companies typically prefer hiring specialists with accredited degrees.

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