Similarities and Differences Between Environmental Health

Similarities and Differences Between Environmental Health and Sanitarian

The long similarities and differences between environmental health and sanitarian are that both share duties which outsiders, the laymen may not be able to find easy when trying to identify whether both professional careers are actually differing; the gulf may be in their names.

Sanitation, on its own, may mean quite a lot of things. According to general understanding it may refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage.

Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand washing with soap. Sanitation systems aim to protect human health by providing a clean environment that will stop the transmission of disease, especially through the fecal–oral route.

There are differences between hygiene, sanitation and environmental health. While hygiene focuses on individual personal hygiene/cleanliness, sanitation often refers to waste management, and environmental health has a broader meaning beyond hygiene and sanitation, referring to where we live, work and play.

The focus of environmental health is on how environmental risk factors affect human health. Environmental health plays a major role in the prevention and control of communicable diseases caused by pathogens, such as diarrhea, and other diseases and conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused through inhalation of air pollution.

Environmental health requires you to gain knowledge of problems in your area and to identify needs and gaps, to set priorities and find resources to solve the problems. Environmental health is a part of public health where the primary goal is preventing disease and promoting people’s health.

Environmental health is associated with recognizing, assessing, understanding and controlling the impacts of people on their environment and the impacts of the environment on the public. The roles and functions of the environmental health worker are:

  • Improving human health and protecting it from environmental hazards.
  • Developing liaison between the community and the local authority, and between the local and higher levels of administration.
  • Acting independently to provide advice on environmental health matters; designing and developing plans of action for environmental health.
  • Initiating and implementing health/hygiene, sanitation and environmental programmes to promote understanding of environmental health principles.
  • Enforcing environmental legislation.
  • Monitoring and evaluating environmental health activities, programmes and projects.

Urbanization and industrialization bring rural people into urban centers that may not be ready to handle the additional sanitary needs.

Ethiopia is at the stage of rapid development with priorities in agriculture and industry. Currently small-scale industries that bridge agriculture and industrialisation are booming. Large-scale industries, such as textiles, food and cement, are growing.

The need to improve and expand social infrastructures such as water supply, waste management and health services is obvious in order to handle the needs of the growing urban centers. As a health worker you need to understand that these developments have environmental health risks due to overcrowding, inappropriate waste management and a shortage of safe drinking water.

Similarities and Differences Between Environmental Health and Sanitarian

Having disclosed some of the salient things to know about environmental health and its functions, the similarities and differences between environmental health and sanitarian will be easily deduced from:

The Sanitarian: Roles and Responsibilities

A sanitarian is an investigator of health and safety within an environment.  This may be the workplace, food preparation facilities, industrial producers, or even the general environment.  Sanitarians not only enforce health and safety regulation, but they also identify risk factors between people and in specific spaces.

Read Also: The Role of Environmental Consultant

Majorly, the concern for population welfare and safety is the duty ascribed to the position of the sanitarian. It helps to ensure this for the community, but it is also an ideal entry level position that has a lot of room for growth.

As the job market slowly increases employment prospects, many of these jobs are still tentative, and they are often not worthy of the commitment of a career.  Public health jobs, however, can offer good stability, good wages, and a way to be of service to the community.


Observe conduct in facilities to ensure that the spread of disease is minimized.

Educate individuals and the public on proper methods to reduce contamination.

Sanitarians divide their time between field observations and data collection, and office work.  The onsite aspect of this job will bring you in contact with both the public sector and industrial and business settings.

Develop general protocols for industrial and public hygiene.

Enforce current regulations for health in community practices.

Assessing best practices, information you have gathered and considering the long term consequences of current procedures, and inspecting equipment and personal practices.

You may also need to conduct interview with the public regarding habits for the disposal of waste as well as hygienic behaviors.

Monitor the handling and disposal of wastes within businesses, hospitals, and the public sector.

Required Academic Background

Sanitarians may gain employment with just a four year Bachelor’s degree and one to three years of work experience.  Some sanitarians will continue on to a Master’s degree in public health and hygiene, and this educational path can offer considerable advancement benefits.

Coursework that is needed to enter this field may include chemistry, biology, safety and sanitation, as well as microbiology and pathology.

Licensing and certifications are obtainable through state board examinations.  Not all employers require this, but it can be important to get these credentials for more job prospects and the possibility of advancement.  Most state boards will also require that you go through continuing education hours in order to maintain your licensed status.

Pay Grade for Sanitarians and Health Workers

Pay scales can range for sanitarians, depending upon the employer and also on your education and experience.  An average starting salary for an entry level candidate is around $40,000 per year.  The median wage for this position is closer to $70,000, and advanced positions can make over $100,000.  This offers considerable room to grow, but also provides a good starting point for a career as a sanitarian.

The prospects for employment in this field are also quite healthy. Increased concern about workplace and public health has helped to grow this job and provide better future employment. Your interest in ensuring public health through preventive measures can offer you financial stability and the possibility to advance as a sanitarian.

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