Protecting Food, Air, and Water: Environmental Health

On 22 March 2018, Domestic Preparedness Advisor Andrew Roszak spoke with Dr. David Dyjack, director of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), about the field of environmental health as it relates to disaster response and mitigation as well as overall community resilience. Unlike public health, which specializes in the social and policy realms, the field of environmental health is scientific and technically oriented to ensure that communities are safe from various environmental contaminants and allergens.

Incorporated in 1937, NEHA currently serves 5,000 “boots-on-the-ground” environmental health professionals located across the United States. At the intersection of environmental health and disaster response, these “second responders” minimize risks as people return to their homes and offices following disasters. For example, when flooded superfund sites contaminate drinking wells or hurricanes and floodwaters cause mold contamination, these professionals ensure safe practices for refuse disposal, temporary food kitchens, clean water, emergency shelters, and mass casualty management.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the environmental health field going forward is the issue of clean water, which can be overlooked until it is not available. Too much or too little water pose problems too. Managing the water supply with an aging water infrastructure requires careful planning to ensure that water is being used effectively, conserved, and protected to combat risks associated with the extremes of flooding and drought. With these and other environmental challenges, a degree in environmental health provides innumerable opportunities in today’s society. “Environmental health is profoundly local,” said Dyjack, and their technical expertise is important at all phases of a disaster.

Learn more about NEHA at or connect directly with Dr. Dyjack on Twitter @dtdyjack.

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Andrew R. Roszak

Andrew Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-P, serves as the executive director for the Institute for Childhood Preparedness and as an advisor for the Domestic Preparedness Journal. He is the author of the Preparing for the Unexpected Series of books, which includes “Preschool Preparedness for an Active Shooter.” He has spent over 20 years working on emergency preparedness, response, and recovery issues. He is admitted to the Illinois and District of Columbia Bars and is admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. Find him on Twitter: @AndyRoszak.

David T. Dyjack

David T. Dyjack, Dr.PH, CIH, is executive director and CEO of the 7,000-member National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), a position he has held since May 2015. Throughout his career, he has worked in over 50 countries, most recently in the Congo, South Sudan, and post-earthquake Haiti. Under his leadership, NEHA has established a presence in Washington, D.C. in support of efforts to influence national policy. He is Principal Investigator on two recent externally funded awards from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first grant serves to increase capacity of the environmental health profession writ-large, while the second is focused on rebuilding essential environmental health services in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He earned a doctorate in public health from the University of Michigan, an MSPH from the University of Utah, and is a board-certified industrial hygienist (CIH). Email: Follow him on Twitter: @DTDYJACK



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