RSPH offers a range of Environmental Health related Qualifications - regulated by OFQUAL/CCEA or Qualifications Wales - at Training Centres around the UK. Select a qualification to see full details - including syllabuses, fact sheets and specimen papers and a list of the Centres where it's available (you can enter your location on the next page).
If your local Centre doesn't currently offer RSPH Qualifications, let us know (here) and we'll get in touch with them.
What does environmental health cover?
Environmental health is a branch of public health that affects the overall wellbeing of the communities we live and work in. It encompasses the health and hygiene of pretty much every factor of our day-to-day lives, which means that people working in environmental health roles play a key part in protecting the public’s health. This includes those who work in the built environment, who make sure that buildings are safe to live and work in. It includes people who work in roles where they protect and improve the environment, including making sure that the air we breathe is clean and everyone has access to green spaces. It includes people who work in food safety and hygiene, who are responsible for checking that restaurants, pubs, hospitality and catering venues that serve and prepare food have good hygiene standards.
There are several laws in place to help protect the environment and to help organisations and the public know what their rights are when they make a complaint about an environmental health issue. Some of these laws include:
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 – this Act outlines waste management and emissions and controls the amount of emissions that are put out into the environment.
The Energy Act 2013 – This outlines the decarbonisation targets for 2030 and make investments to meet the growing demands of electricity.
The Control of Pollution Act 1974 – this legislation outlines the legal ways to dispose of waste, laws around littering and pollution targets.
People who work in environmental health play a huge role in keeping the public safe and healthy. We often take for granted things like working in safe buildings or being able to check the food hygiene rating of the restaurant we’re planning to visit. However, it’s only thanks to the environmental health workforce that the buildings we live in, the green spaces we exercise in and the hospitality venues we socialize in, don’t pose a risk to our health and wellbeing. It’s also thanks to the environmental health industry that the public has access to information on issues like access to clean air, noise pollution and energy consumption.
What are some key environmental health issues?
Environmental health covers a range of issues that affect the public’s health. These include (but are not limited to) different types of environmental pollution, the safety of the buildings we live in, pest control and access to resources like clean water.
Air pollution – Air pollution is one of the most urgent environmental health issues. On average, unclean air causes 40,000 deaths in the UK alone each year and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90% of people in the world are breathing polluted air. Air pollution poses a serious risk to the public’s wellbeing and affects certain groups of people more than others, including ‘children, older people, and people on low incomes or from ethnic minorities,’ according to Environmental Health charity Client Earth.
Noise pollution - As well as the quality of our air, the levels of noise we’re exposed to also have a dramatic impact on our health and wellbeing. According to the Chief Medical officer, it is only second to air pollution in damaging the public’s health and 80% of people in the UK are exposed to noise pollution in their homes. This includes noise from neighbours, buildings sites, factories, noise at work or clubs and pubs. Persistently loud noise can be incredibly stressful and has been linked to poor sleep, cardiovascular disease and children’s learning.
Asbestos removal – A key area of environmental health that RSPH has developed and promotes multiple qualifications in is asbestos removal. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year. When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they can cause serious diseases, including lung cancer or a scaring of the lungs known as Asbestosis. Although supplying and using asbestos has been illegal since 1999, there are still existing asbestos-containing buildings from historic use, which people are employed to remove.
Pest control– The public should have access to safe and clean buildings and one of the ways that this is done is through preventing and controlling pest outbreaks. Although there are laws that prevent food businesses from operating if a pest outbreak is detected, such as the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2005, it is also a businesses’ duty to its customers to make sure their premises are safe. If you are interested in learning more about commercial pest control, RSPH has a range of pest control qualifications, which can teach you how to identify and remove a range of different pests.
Future environmental health issues
The impact of Covid-19 on commercial businesses – When lockdowns were introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19, most commercial buildings were vacated and stayed that way for months. One of the risks that has been identified with premises starting to open back up is that many buildings may have experienced a pest infestation whilst no one has been around to check up on it. Although Pest Controllers were classified as key workers throughout the pandemic, the British Pest Control Association (BCPA) have outlined that ‘one of the biggest threats that many closed businesses will have to face is the possibility of a serious pest infestation’.
Net-zero by 2050 – The UK Government has pledged new plans to reduce greenhouse gases by 68% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels) and is aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050. Measures to help reach this target are investing in green energy, ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and investing to make buildings more energy-efficient. The plans also outline that 250,000 new jobs will be created, which would help to support the growth in environmental health employment.
Environmental Health careers
The environmental health workforce is incredibly diverse and includes people working in a range of industries, roles and levels of seniority. However, what people who work in environmental health all have in common is that every day, their work helps people to live, work and socialise safely.
People who work in environmental health roles are employed across the public and the private sector. An example of a public sector role is someone who is employed by a local council who is responsible for investigating environmental health complaints. Councils will often have teams of people who address health and safety issues that are raised in their communities. Some of the private sector environmental health roles include pest controllers, asbestos removal engineers and environmental health officers. Below are some of the different environmental health roles that make up this diverse and exciting sector:
Pest Controllers - People who work in pest control are responsible for identifying and removing pests or vermin. As well as the practical elimination of pests, a pest controller will also advise the public on how to prevent pests in the future, do routine checks of buildings and provide reports on the inspections that they’ve carried out.
Environmental Health Officers – Environmental Health Officers are instrumental in making sure that the public’s homes and workplaces are safe. They often have to investigate and follow up on a range of environmental issues including inspecting food businesses to check they are reaching acceptable food hygiene standards, investigating accidents at work and following up complaints of pest outbreaks.
Waste Management Officers – People who work in these roles are integral for maintaining healthy buildings for the public to live and work in. From finding and removing asbestos to making sure sanitation systems are safe, these roles are key to making sure we have good public health systems. Waste Management Officers are also responsible for following health and safety legislation and making sure recycling policies are followed correctly.
RSPH environmental health policy work and blogs
RSPH is proud to have published several policy reports and recommendations on environmental health issues. We also frequently work with our public health partners and stakeholders on blogs that cover a range of different environmental health issues, from green spaces to the role of the Environmental Health Officer throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of our research and environmental health work is outlined below:
Healthy environments – RSPH’s policy team has carried out a range of different pieces of research into how we can make the environments we live in healthier. This work includes research into what makes a ‘healthy high street’, how we can make more spaces smoke-free and what the health impacts of commuting are.
Food Special Interest group – RSPH has an active Food Special Interest group, which is made up of RSPH members who are interested or work in food safety, nutrition or supply chain. The group has access to up-to-date food safety and hygiene industry developments and members also receive invites to webinars and events with industry experts. The group is chaired by Professor Lisa Ackerley, a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner and an independent safety consultant providing advice and support to most food industry sectors on food safety issues.
Blogs – We regularly collaborate with industry experts who contribute to our Public Health news blog, offering the latest opinions and updates in environmental health.
RSPH environmental health qualifications
RSPH has a range of Environmental Health qualifications that will give you the skills and knowledge you need to progress in a career in environmental health. The main areas of environmental health that our qualifications specialise in are pest control and hazardous waste removal, including asbestos removal. Having people who are trained in these areas is vital for maintaining the safety of the buildings and communities we live in. We’re proud that every year, people choose to take our environmental health qualifications.
Wherever you are in your environmental health career, we have a qualification that will boost your skills and help you in your chosen role. RSPH qualifications are taken by over 40,000 people every year, and we offer courses in locations across the country through our network of registered training providers. Having a recognised qualification is often needed in the environmental health sector, as you’ll need to have up-to-date skills and expertise to be able to carry out your role in the field.
All our qualifications:
- Are competitively priced (with discounts for bulk orders)
- CPD accredited
- Industry recognised, OFQUAL regulated qualifications (Internationally recognised)
- Offer flexible learning opportunities that can fit around other commitments
- Give you access to a friendly and supportive qualification team, who will be able to answer any questions about your course
To find out more about our Environmental Health qualifications, you can get in touch with our friendly qualifications team, who will be happy to help with any questions you may have. You can email them at [email protected]
RSPH Qualifications (classroom assessment*)
Ofqual Reference: 500/8797/6
Ofqual Reference: 601/6344/6
Ofqual Reference: 601/0601/3
Ofqual Reference: 500/8978/X
Ofqual reference number: 601/8309/3
Ofqual Reference: 603/0758/4
Ofqual reference number: 603/0922/2
Ofqual reference number: 601/8288/X
Ofqual reference number: 601/8286/6
Ofqual reference number: 601/8289/1
Ofqual reference number: 601/8287/8
Ofqual reference number: 603/4949/9
Ofqual reference number: 603/3839/8
Ofqual reference number: 603/0275/6
Ofqual Reference: 601/8142/4
If there are no Training Centres in your area offering RSPH Qualifications, our eLearning Courses are a great alternative. They can be studied anytime and anywhere. And some lead to a formal Qualification or contribute CPD points (following an optional classroom assessment).