What is an Environmental Health Specialist?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2018
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Environmental health specialists are people who are responsible for enforcing standards of health and safety within the community. A primary role of an environmental health specialist is to ensure that state and federal codes and regulations are met by organizations and businesses. This, in turn, ensures that citizens can live in a healthy environment.

Food sanitation, air quality, work safety, housing safety, and removing of hazardous and infectious materials are just a few of the areas in which an environmental health specialist is concerned. This type of government worker is employed in a specific area. For example, an environmental health specialist may be employed in the food safety department. He or she will visit local restaurants and places where food is served to ensure that health and cleanliness standards are met by the establishment.

The environmental health specialist may be in charge of training people who work in food service. This involves teaching them the proper way to handle food safely and avoid contaminating others. If the public complains about a local food establishment, the government employee will investigate the establishment to determine if it is violating health codes and regulations.


Some environmental health specialists are responsible for checking the cleanliness of a community's water. This entails taking samples of the local water supply and testing them to see if a health hazard exists. It is also his or her job to ensure that business owners and homeowners follow laws concerning groundwater and the installation and destruction of wells. This helps to prevent contamination of the community's water supply.

An environmental health specialist may even visit local pools and community centers to determine that they are safe for the public's use. They visit businesses to make sure that employees are working in safe conditions. Some specialists are responsible for inspecting landfills, recycling centers, and other solid waste programs to ensure that solid waste is disposed of according to health codes and regulations. These are just a few of the areas in which an environmental health specialist can expect to oversee.

Those who are interested in working in the environmental health field will need to earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. They should earn a science degree or graduate with a major that required the completion of several science courses. After earning a bachelor's degree, they should contact their local environmental health department. The department can then provide details concerning the requirements for the specific state in which they desire to work.



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