It’s been over four years since the city of Flint, Michigan, made the fateful decision to change its drinking water source to the Flint River. Due to insufficient water treatment, over 100,000 residents were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water. This decision to change the source was an economic and political choice made without appropriate counsel from credentialed environmental health professionals.
Today, Flint’s water supply is being declared safe to drink. The people of Flint, however, no longer trust their water supply, nor do they trust their state government. What astounds me is that this situation could have been avoided. That’s what our profession does every day—we prevent illness and injury by using science to inform decision-making.
As a credentialed environmental health professional living in Michigan and the current president of the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), I know firsthand how critical it is to have credentialed environmental health professionals involved in decisions regarding the safety of our water and food. Credentialed environmental health professionals have demonstrated a high level of expertise, have committed themselves to continuing education, and have sworn to a code of ethics in service to the public.
Currently, 22 states do not require credentialed environmental health professionals to be involved in these key decisions. For this reason, NEHA has worked closely with U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan) and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) to introduce legislation that will establish federal guidelines requiring environmental health professional who make these important public health decisions to be credentialed. The Environmental Health Workforce Act (HR 1909 and S 2616) is critical to building a credentialed environmental health workforce in every state and community.
Credentialed environmental health professionals save lives every single day, and NEHA is working for every single one of you.
Adam London MPA, RS