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The COVID-19 Pandemic and Environmental Health: Lessons Learned

Abstract

Environmental health is historically an overlooked and underrated discipline. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the value of environmental health and environmental health professionals (EHPs). EHPs have a unique set of skills and knowledge that were, or could have been, significant in controlling the pandemic. This skill set includes a thorough understanding of legislation and regulations; the ability to conduct human health risk assessment and implement effective risk-control measures; enforcement, communication, and education skills; and a significant understanding of their own local communities. The opportunities for applying the skills of EHPs vary across the world depending on several factors, including legislative and regulatory frameworks in each jurisdiction. Here we present our early evaluation of the unique skills and knowledge base of EHPs and lessons that can be learned from EHP engagement in public health protection. We also argue that local knowledge and engagement need to be recognized as valuable tools in emergency preparedness. In our increasingly globalized world, mechanisms to maintain and value local knowledge are needed, which could be achieved by embedding the "value of local" into policy to ensure that the importance and value of local knowledge are captured. We also advocate for raising awareness of the value of public health, and specifically, environmental health.

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Speaker / Author:
David T. Dyjack, DrPH, CIH, National Environmental Health Association
Adam Choonara, MCIEH, CEnvH, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Natural Sciences, Middlesex University
Gayle Davis, MPH, MIOA, SFHEA, CEnvH, Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Henry Dawson, MSc, CMCIEH, SFHEA, Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Toni Hannelly, DrPH, FEHA, FHEA, School of Population Health, Curtin University
Zena Lynch, MA, CMCIEH, FCIEH, SFHEA, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston
Graeme Mitchell, MSc, MCIEH, CEnvH, Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University
Matilde A. Rodrigues, MSc, PhD, Health and Environment Research Centre, School of Health of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto
Lindsay Shaw, MSc, MIOA, CEnvH, Environmental Health, Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Ulster University
Kirstin E. Ross, PhD, GradDipEnvH, Environmental Health, College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University
Month Year:
December 2021
Volume#:
84.5
Page #:
20-25
Publication Month:
December 2021
Subtopic:
Workforce Development