When I tell people I am studying Environmental Health I often have the response “Oh so you look at trees!” which is not the case! It seems that some people don’t really know what I am talking about at all, so hopefully this post will help explain what exactly Environmental Health is.
Environmental Health covers a number of avenues such as Food, Health and Safety, Housing, Environmental Protection and public health. People who work in Environmental Health try to prevent incidences before they happen, prevent people from being hurt or becoming ill, and promote healthy lifestyles. Environmental Health looks after the health and wellbeing in all aspects of people’s lives, such as their homes, work and community.
Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) inspect food premises and put the food hygiene scores in the windows. They ensure that the places that you go are hygienically clean, which means there should be no cockroaches in your food! They also work with the businesses, helping to reduce the risk of food poisoning. If a food poisoning outbreak does occur they also help in the investigation to find why, for example, the E.coli 0157 outbreak in South Wales.
Housing officers ensure that houses are structurally safe to live in and whether there are issues that need to be dealt with. For example damp and mould or being too cold to live in – they also ensure that there is no fire risk in properties. Another of their roles is to look after empty properties and maintain them until they are safe for someone to live in.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety is the most known and misunderstood avenue of Environmental Health; it looks at the health and wellbeing of those in a workplace. It makes sure that workers are safe and tries to reduce accidents. Many believe it stops people from having fun, however it can prevent serious accidents involving big machines, chemicals, manual handling, and much more.
Environmental Protection looks into pollution, waste industry and nuisances. As part of an EHO’s job, they look into disturbances involving noise, odour, smoke and more. They ultimately work to reduce and eliminate these disturbances. Pollution is monitored throughout the year to see whether there is a high level of certain pollutants in one area.
The public health aspect of Environmental Health tries to increase the health and wellbeing of the public. For instance they look at obesity, smoking, alcohol use etc. As part of public health, there is health promotion where there are campaigns in schools to ensure healthy eating, washing hands correctly and promoting exercise.
Every day is different when studying this course, I thoroughly enjoy learning about the different aspects and it is never boring. The course has allowed us to go on trips, for example to St Fagan’s to look at how houses have developed over the years. We’ve also been to a concrete batch plant, which was relevant to an assignment and exam, and we also have practical sessions; for example, lab sessions and sessions in the food industry centre to study different meat, poultry and fish. This course is really varied so you’re not in lectures all the time and I find this really helps with fully understanding the subject.
I hope this helps you to understand what Environmental Health is but if you would like to know more about the course, here is a video which explains in a bit more detail: