Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviours. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This definition excludes behaviour not related to environment, as well as behaviour related to the social and cultural environment, and genetics. (World Health Organisation, 2020).
The environmental health profession had its modern-day roots in the sanitary reform movement initiated in the United Kingdom in the 1850s and then with similar changes in Australia around the time of the gold rushes.
EHPs are employed around the world and maybe known as sanitarians, public health inspectors, environmental health specialists, environmental health officers, or environmental health practitioners. In Australia, EHPs are employed in both the government and private sectors. But generally, they are employed as Environmental Health Officers in local government where their broad skills and knowledge are essential in providing health protection services in the local community.
When it comes to public health services, EHPs are the primary public health practitioners within local government and, as such, they make a unique and significant contribution to the community’s health.
The practice of Environmental Health has been defined as, ” …the assessment, correction, control and prevention of environmental elements that can potentially adversely affect human health…” (Department of Health and Ageing/enHealth 1999) Consequently, you will see EHOs working in the following areas:
In addition to these direct services, EHOs are also heavily involved in planning and policy development around:
You can generally find your local Environmental Health Officer at your local Council Office. They are there to help you and the other members of your community, make use of their skills and ensure your community enjoys a high level of health protection.