ENVIRONMENTAL health is one of the most important areas of local authority work, essential to safeguarding the wellbeing of communities. Yet it has suffered from something of a Cinderella image.
Paul Robinson, director of education and professional standards at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), sets the record straight about this challenging, varied and rewarding career.
``People tend to be surprised when they find out what a career in environmental health actually involves, '' says Paul.
``Contrary to its rather unglamorous public image, it isn't all about catching rats, unblocking drains and dealing with obstreperous people.
``In fact, environmental health practitioners are highly qualified professionals whose work, as well as being varied and challenging, makes a real difference to people's lives.
``They work to ensure that the food we eat is safe and of good quality, to improve housing conditions, to safeguard standards of workplace health and safety, and to create a better environment, for example by tackling air pollution.
``Today's health care is increasingly about prevention rather than cure, and calls for a partnership approach to keep people safe and healthy. The environmental health profession has a key role to play within health partnerships, working with Government and a range of agencies and organisations to reduce health inequalities and raise the standard of health and wellbeing.
``It's a career that provides excellent opportunities, both for school leavers and for adults wanting to retrain or …