Environmental Health Sciences can be defined as the assessment, evaluation and control of chemical, physical and biological hazards in order to protect public health. The sanitary revolution began in the late 1800s when it was determined that basic environmental sanitation and hygiene were necessary to prevent communicable diseases. Sewage disposal and water quality control were necessary to prevent diseases like cholera.
Today environmental health science is concerned with more global issues due to expanding populations. Such issues are: the pandemic flu and West Nile Virus. Also, global warming and ozone depletion are probably the two major global environmental health issues today, but yet the most controversial. The environmental health scientist must be well prepared to evaluate such controversial issues, as the ramifications do affect public health.
With globalization and exponential advancement in technology, the environmental health scientist must have broad knowledge of health sciences, not just sewage disposal and water quality control. An advanced degree in public health (MPH) provides the necessary general background as well as specific environmental health science knowledge.
Environmental health scientists must also be prepared to work in a team environment with other health scientists and professionals. Problem solving will require a team effort with: doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, epidemiologists, law enforcement and city/county/state/government officials. It is not acceptable to have technical knowledge, one must have a broad knowledge of related subjects.
The following subjects will provide basic public health knowledge as well as specific environmental health science knowledge:
environmental toxicology, public health and policy, epidemiology, statistics, global communicable diseases, public health infrastructure, fundamentals of air/water/land pollution.