The covid-19 pandemic and environmental health: Lessons learned

David T. Dyjack, Adam Choonara, Gayle Davis, Henry Dawson, Toni Hannelly, Zena Lynch, Graeme Mitchell, Matilde A. Rodrigues, Lindsay Shaw, Kirstin E. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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, signifi cant 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 signifi cant 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 specifi cally, environmental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-25
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • pandemic
  • environmental
  • health
  • risk
  • assessment


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