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Overview

That first-grader who organizes his family’s recycling bins and sets up a backyard compost unit seems almost destined for a major in environmental/environmental health engineering. People with a devotion to environmental causes know it long before college; they not only believe in the ideals of preservation and conservation, though. They live them out. Keeping our air and water clean, developing systems to minimize health risks from hazardous waste, and promoting regulations for industries all fall under environmental/environmental health engineering. In this major, you’ll learn about the impact of different industries on the environment, possible strategies for reversing damaging effects, ways to provide potable water and reduce air pollution, and the safest methods of waste disposal. You’ll tackle the specific ways that our environment affects our health and what measures we can take individually and as a society to . Special interests might include hydrology, hazardous substance treatment, hydraulics, or geostatistical modeling. Some programs will even have you drafting mock legislation that, for example, protects wildlife reserves.

According to Tufts University, environmental health has three components: biological, physical, and social. By the time you’ve completed your studies, you’ll be better able to understand the health-to-environment relationship and how it can (and should be) optimized.

Studies in environmental/environmental health engineering involve many different, often overlapping fields: infectious disease, biology, chemistry, biostatistics, epidemiology, toxicology, nutrition, and math. In most programs, you’ll enhance your classroom knowledge with hands-on research and laboratory work.

SAMPLE CURRICULUM

  • Air Pollution Control

  • Biology of Populations

  • Biostatistics

  • Calculus Environmental Engineering Processes

  • Environmental Biology

  • Environmental Toxicology

  • Fluid Mechanics

  • Hazardous Materials Management

  • Health Effects and Risk Management

  • Hydrology

  • Parasites

  • Pollution Prevention

  • Water and Wastewater Plant Design

  • Water Contaminants


HIGH SCHOOl PREPARATION

You’ll best prepare yourself to be an engineer with courses in math, chemistry, physics, biology, and other sciences. The higher the level, the better. (You’ll get a head start in your college course work by taking calculus and trigonometry.) Computer courses are also important. Look into environmental clubs at your school or local volunteer work that would give you experience with environmental concerns.