Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is a registered charity and the professional voice for environmental health.  It sets standards, accredits courses and qualifications for the education of members and other environmental health practitioners.

It provides information, evidence and policy advice to local and national government and environmental and public health practitioners in the public and private sectors. As an awarding body, the CIEH provides qualifications, events, and support materials on topics relevant to health, wellbeing and safety to develop workplace skills and best practice.

As a campaigning organisation, the CIEH aims to promote improvements in environmental and public health policy. It is based in the UK with offices in London, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The trading arm of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is a wholly owned trading subsidiary which is charged with promoting the mission of the CIEH through its trading activities and its profits are gift-aided to the CIEH to support its charitable objectives. It organises conferences, seminars and produces a comprehensive range of public health publications. 

It also provides over 50 certification training programmes which include food safety, health and safety, environmental awareness through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers and 6,000 registered training centres across the UK.


Policy making at the CIEH is undertaken by the Policy Development Board in conjunction with the Policy Department.  The work of the Policy Department includes representing the profession to external agencies, including government, lobbying for improvements in health legislation and policies, liaising with other professional bodies and non-governmental organisations and promoting environmental health at European and international levels. The five main areas of environmental health are -
Environmental Protection, Food Safety and Nutrition, Health and Safety, Housing and Public Health. Full details of these can be found on our website –

We will now look at environmental protection in more detail.

Environmental protection

The protection of key elements of our environment is important for human health. The ability to breathe clean air, to have a wholesome supply of drinking water and to be protected against the harmful effects of things like waste and noise are fundamental to our well-being.

The adverse impacts of the environment on health are therefore a core concern of environmental health practitioners (EHPs). An important part of their work involves investigating, identifying and assessing environmental problems and then working out the best approaches to tackle them.

Solutions range from identifying the correct scientific or technical method for reducing or eliminating a problem to taking legal action to sanction those who cause pollution or a nuisance.  Enforcement is not just about the courts, however, and EHPs also have an important role in advising industry and others on how to meet their legal obligations.

Environmental protection focus’ on 5 areas – Contaminated Land, Water, Industrial Pollution, Pest Management and Noise.

Contaminated land

Contaminated land is land which, because of substances in, on or under it, presents a significant possibility of significant harm to people or other receptors. Contamination may arise because the land has previously been used for industrial or other economic purposes, or because it contains naturally occurring substances such as metals or gases at levels that are harmful to health if ingested, inhaled or touched.

An estimated 300,000 hectares of land in the UK are affected to some degree by contamination left by industrial activity. 

The contamination may be caused by leaks and spillages from pipes or tanks, by the disposal of waste materials on the site, by the demolition of buildings containing toxic elements such as asbestos or by any number of other processes or activities that occurred while the plant was operating or while it was being closed down.


Clean water is one of the most fundamental requirements of human health. Whether it is used for drinking, cooking, washing or recreation, we all expect our water to be safe. If it is not, micro-organisms can cause health problems ranging from a mild stomach upset to a serious illness such as cryptosporidiosis, and chemicals can cause poisoning.

Local authority environmental health practitioners are involved in protecting water quality in their areas. As well as sampling the public water supply from time to time, they are responsible for identifying and checking private water supplies.  Where quality standards fall below those required, EHPs work with the water providers to minimise risks to health.

However, having a safe water supply is no good if people cannot afford to pay for it. The CIEH was instrumental in ending the disconnection of domestic consumers in debt. As the real price of water has risen in recent years, the CIEH has lobbied government to recognise water poverty as a growing problem, and to develop policies to reduce the number of households affected.  We have resisted the spread of metering due to its effects on affordability and access, calling instead for equity in charging methods. The CIEH has promoted action to reduce water need through such mechanisms as a new Water Saving Trust.

Industrial pollution

Pollution from industrial installations and processes takes many forms. Some activities can cause air pollution, others may cause water or land to become contaminated, while others may cause nuisance to local residents through the noise, dust or odour they emit.  External air quality is also the main determinant of indoor air quality, regulated in respect of workplaces under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and in respect of homes under legislation such as the Housing Act 2004. Many air pollutants also have a complex relationship with climate change.

Environmental health practitioners work with industry to try to reduce the amount of pollution caused, in order to protect the environment and minimise the risks to public health.  The Environment Agency also plays a part in controlling pollution from larger industrial sources.

On 6 April 2008 a new regime for controlling industrial pollution came into force. The new regime – called Environmental Permitting (EP) - has streamlined and combined previously separate waste and pollution control systems. It covers all those industrial and waste management activities which have the potential to harm the environment or human health.

Pest management

Adequate control of pests is essential to the maintenance of a safe and decent environment for people to live in.  

Pests pose a range of health hazards. They spread pest-borne illnesses, which reduce people’s quality of life and increase the demand on scarce medical resources.

Pests cause damage to structures and contaminate products.  Rodent activity is a nuisance and, at worst, can lead to fires and floods.  Bird fouling can make pavements unsafe, resulting in significant claims for damages. Food and medical supplies are rendered unsalable or unusable when contaminated by either insect or rodent pests. Pest infestations make urban areas undesirable and inhibit inward investment. They tend to be part of a vicious circle: poor housing, health and education together with social exclusion, low business investment and high unemployment are common in areas where chronic pest infestations persist.

The CIEH has set up the National Pest Advisory Panel (NPAP) to take the lead in setting high professional standards for EHPs and to offer advice and guidance to those in charge of local authority pest control departments.
NPAP comprises pest management professionals from right across the environmental health community and runs an annual programme of projects, seminars and events. 

Its prime objectives are:

  • To raise the profile of pest management in the UK, leading to better understanding of the need for good pest management
  • To establish channels of communication throughout industry, government, local authorities and academia, leading to a greater awareness of problems and the need to set priorities
  • To improve the standards of pest management throughout the UK by promoting good practice, leading to reduced pest levels and pesticide use
  • To provide expert advice to government departments and agencies via the CIEH
  • To identify and promote research needs in the area of pest management


Noise is an unavoidable part of everyday human life. Whether we live in town or the countryside, we are surrounded by noise most of the time.  While we must accept a certain degree of noise in our daily lives, there are some types of noise that are unwelcome and, in extreme cases; noise may have a damaging effect on our health.

The job of the environmental health practitioner is to ensure that the degree of noise in the environment around us remains at a level that is not harmful to health.

There are several ways in which EHPs help to control the amount of noise in the environment.  The ideal approach is to try and prevent excessive amounts of noise occurring in the first place, for example by advising on suitable noise limits when planning applications for new developments are being considered.

Where excessive noise does occur, EHPs can investigate and suggest solutions to the problem. In many cases, the person or business making the noise is unaware they are causing a problem.  The situation may be resolved by offering them advice on reducing the noise, or by getting them to talk with those living or working nearby to agree a mutually acceptable solution. Sometimes formal mediation can help in these situations.

If, however, a solution is not achievable by persuasion or negotiation and an EHP considers the noise to be so bad that it may be harmful to health, they may be able to take legal action under the statutory nuisance provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In the longer term, EHPs are working to ensure that overall levels of noise in the environment are gradually reduced. Noise mapping is one of the tools employed in the UK and EU.  It involves identifying the number of people affected by different levels of ambient noise, the source of that noise and the locations of the people affected.  This knowledge can help in the production of noise action plans to manage noise, reduce noise levels where appropriate and promote tranquillity.

Professional development

Environmental health practitioners are highly qualified professionals whose work, as well as being varied and challenging, makes a real difference to people’s health and well-being.

It’s a career that provides excellent opportunities, both for school leavers and for people wanting to retrain or to take forward experience gained in related occupations.

Qualified Environmental Health Practitioners, or EHPs, can take their skills into a huge variety of public and private sector employers, and all kinds of generalist and specialist roles. Offering a career that ticks all the right boxes for people who want real influence, satisfaction and challenge.

Qualifying as an EHP will give you under-pinning knowledge and skills in all aspects of environmental health practice, including Food Safety; Health & Safety at Work; Environmental Protection; Housing; Public Health.

You are then faced with a choice of whether to qualify as a general practitioner or as a specialist. Whatever choice you make, there will always be options in the future to try new challenges and cross over into other areas.

Where and what to study

Environmental health is a graduate profession, so all would-be EHPs must first obtain a degree accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. This is combined with work-based learning, plus professional exams after graduation before you’re a fully qualified EHP.

School or College leavers looking to enrol on an accredited BSc degree course should be thinking in terms of achieving a minimum of 160 UCAS points with science at AS/A2 level, or 200 UCAS points without science. Alternatively, entry can be gained through an appropriate GNVQ, BTEC or Foundation Degree qualification.

For more mature aspirants, including career-changers, there are flexible alternatives into BSc degrees, including one-year science access or Foundation Degrees. Graduates who already have a BSc in another field may be able to go straight onto a postgraduate MSc course and qualify that way.

The key thing to remember is that your degree course must be CIEH-accredited. More and more universities are in discussions with the CIEH about running accredited courses, so the choice is growing all the time. For anyone wanting to become a professionally qualified EHP, whether you are a school leaver, graduate or career changer, the gateway to qualification is a CIEH accredited degree.

Most universities offer the option of studying part time, and for MSc degrees there are distance learning opportunities.

The curriculum of BSc and MSc courses offers in-depth studies of food safety, occupational health, environmental protection, public health and housing. Other studies put science in a social, economic and legal context.

Although they may vary slightly, all graduate and post-graduate accredited courses essentially cover the same ground. Obviously the syllabus will give you in-depth understanding of all the five key areas of environmental health — food safety, housing, environmental protection, occupational health and public health. Just as important, though, is the emphasis placed on developing your skills in general management, communication, negotiating, analysis and evaluation. You’ll learn how we intervene, how we educate and how we go about ensuring legal compliance. There is a lot to learn, but the studies are never dull. There’s an interesting mix of laboratory work, case studies, visits and group projects.

With your degree and work-based learning under your belt, you’re close to a professional qualification which is recognised and respected throughout Europe and the rest of the world.


Membership of the CIEH is open to everyone who works in the field of environmental health. This includes students, lecturers, trainers and anyone with a commitment to the profession. The CIEH offers six membership grades suited to students and practitioners at various stages of their career. We have over 10,500 members, mostly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We support our members by:

  • Encouraging and demonstrating members' contribution to improving environmental health
  • Raising the status and understanding of environmental health – with national, regional and local government, employers, the media, the public and other stakeholders
  • Promoting improvements in environmental and public health policy
  • Ensuring that the high professional standards, knowledge and competencies of environmental health practitioners are achieved and maintained

For further Information please contact us

Head office
Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Chadwick Court
15 Hatfields
London SE1 8DJ

Tel: 020 7928 6006 | Fax: 020 7928 5862

Types of Environmental Health jobs

EHP/EHO Technical Officer
Environmental Health Officer
Technical Officer – Pollution
Environmental Enforcement Officer
Environmental Protection Officer
Food Education Officer
Risk & Safety Manager
Home Improvement Officer
Housing Standards Officer
Noise Support Officer
Smoke free Homes Officer
Enforcement officer
Asbestos Surveyor
Risk Assessor
Safety Consultant
Occupational Hygiene Consultant
Pollution enforcement Officer
Envirocrime Project Co-ordinator
Environmental Warden
Conservation Officer
Environmental Health & Safety Manager
Health & Safety Officer
Environmental Health Manager

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