Uncover EH: Uncovering Environmental Health

uncover eh: This image depicts the left hand of a state-appointed public health inspector holding an electronic thermometer. The thermosensitive probe had been placed into a cold table container of an unknown food, and had recorded a temperature of 37.5oF, which when converted, equals 3.1oC.Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision and
Emerging Roles in Environmental Health (UNCOVER EH)

Understanding the Needs, Challenges, Opportunities, Vision and Emerging Roles in Environmental Health (UNCOVER EH) collected information from more than 1,700 environmental health professionals in health departments across the nation. The initiative identified and described key EH workforce and practice elements such as professional demographics, areas of practice, and current and future challenges and opportunities. UNCOVER EH seeks to assess and improve the profession and practice of environmental health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Environmental Health Association, and Baylor University partnered on this initiative.          

​UNCOVER EH Survey Results Published in the Journal of Environmental Health

We are pleased to announce the release of “Uncovering Environmental Health: An Initial Assessment of the Profession’s Health Department Workforce and Practice,” now published in the June 2019 Journal of Environmental Health. The article is the first of its kind to present the demographics, characteristics, education and training, practice areas, and aspects of leadership and satisfaction among the environmental health workforce.


Accompanying the release of the article are two fact sheets that provide insight on salary and credential information collected from the UNCOVER EH research study. Uncovering Earnings and Education in Environmental Health examines salary differences in the environmental health workforce among degree types, position levels, and by jurisdiction. Environmental health professionals holding a Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) credential are compared by position type and jurisdiction population size in Uncovering Environmental Health Credentials.

CDC has developed an UNCOVER EH Key Findings infographic to highlight important information and results from the study.


Why are we doing this?

  • Efforts of EH professionals are critical for protecting public health and the environment, yet these efforts often go unnoticed until problems occur (e.g., foodborne outbreaks, vector borne diseases, contaminated water supplies, disasters).
  • To understand the complexity of emerging EH issues and reported impacts to health department capacity, we need to hear directly from EH professionals.
  • Given the importance of EH to ensure healthy communities, it is very critical to understand the EH workforce and the challenges it faces to provide solutions to these needs.

What are the benefits?

  • An initiative of this magnitude will result in unprecedented and comprehensive documentation of the critical functions performed by environmental health professionals across all levels of government.
  • A national-level report will provide a foundation for leaders and decision makers to make evidence-based decisions regarding workforce capacity and public health safety for their communities.
  • Additionally, this information can serve as tool to plan future EH training needs and to better understand emerging EH issues within their local jurisdictions. 
  • Results of the study will be shared within non-governmental organizations, private industry, and other sectors with environmental and public health interests.

How we surveyed EH professionals?

  • Initially a web-based survey was sent to EH professionals to collect information about demographics, characteristics, practice areas, and major challenges.
  • Then regional workshops with up to 25 EH professionals were held to discuss in detail the survey results and identified challenges and emerging issues.
  • This initiative is currently focused on EH professionals working at health departments.
    Opportunities to expand the survey to include EH professionals at other governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies, and private industry will be explored in the future.

uncover eh - a female Aedes aegypti mosquito as she was completing the activity of obtaining a blood-meal from a human host through her fascicle, which she’d begun to resheath in her labium.
Thank You for Your Participation!

It was essential to the success of this initiative and ensuring that a broad audience of EH professionals received and responded to the survey.
Thank you for participating and for helping spread the word about this important study. 


Read the UNCOVER EH Column published in the July/August 2017 Journal of Environmental Health

For questions or additional information about UNCOVER EH, please contact programs@neha.org


CDC Partner Information: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/uncover-eh/index.html