Kentucky is honoring environmental health professionals for their many contributions to our public health infrastructure. Governor Matt Bevin proclaimed March 13-17 as “Environmental Health Professionals” week saying in part that environmental health specialists in Kentucky “conduct thousands of statewide inspections and investigations each year to ensure the safety and health of Kentucky residents, visitors and our environment.”
Environmental health professionals conduct safety and health inspections of restaurants, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, food production facilities, dairy and milk processing facilities, hotels and motels, schools, public swimming pools, boarding homes, tattoo and body piercing studios and onsite sewage septic systems for new homes and businesses. Lead paint abatement, radon gas reduction, and many other environmental health programs also are included in the program.
“The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Department for Public Health, and all local health departments are charged with continually safeguarding Kentucky’s environmental health,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Hiram C. Polk, Jr. “Environmental health professionals are hard at work every day making sure we have the appropriate mechanisms in place to protect us against potential danger. The tireless work of these professionals helps minimize and prevent transmission of disease, illness and many other public health concerns.”
Kentucky currently credentials approximately 700 environmental health specialists/registered sanitarians across the state. These individuals must have a degree from a university, with at least 24 semester hours in physical, chemical or biological sciences. Environmental health specialists also must attend yearly trainings to ensure they remain up-to-date on current scientific and educational information.
“Our workforce oversees a large portion of the Commonwealth’s economy and ensures the safety and health of many business operations,” said Rebecca Gillis, director of the Division of Public Health Safety in DPH. “These individuals are also routinely among the first responders to emergency situations such as ice storms, flooding and tornadoes. They are an integral part of ensuring health and safety during high profile events such as the Kentucky Derby.”