Celebrate Earth Day and Alaska’s local environmental professionals – champions of community healthApril 21, 2017
If you live in rural Alaska and you need medical attention, you go to the clinic and see a community health aide. But if your local environment needs attention, you will want to see a local environmental professional. Across our state, you can find them working in Tribal and city government offices, identified by a variety of titles: environment manager, water plant or solid waste operator, IGAP or Brownfields coordinator. Although they have different titles and different jobs, they all share a common role – to evaluate the health of the air, water, land and food that we depend on to keep our communities healthy.
This is a tough and important job. Tough because of the many challenges in maintaining public services in small rural communities. Important because everyone’s health is affected by the quality of the environment. Many environmental workers keep basic services running each day, such as having a regular flow of clean water into our homes or washeterias, and on-going collection and disposal of waste. These community health services protect us from higher incidents of illness including skin, lung and stomach infections.
Local environmental workers also investigate and respond to a wide range of other events: debris washing up on the beach, storm erosion, air quality concerns from volcanic ash and cleanup of old military and industrial sites. They are also active in monitoring emerging challenges brought about by a rapidly changing climate: the die-off of marine birds, higher levels of toxic algae in shellfish and poorer water quality in salmon streams.
On Earth Day, April 22, ANTHC recognizes the important work of local environmental professionals across Alaska. We know that their efforts are critical in keeping our communities clean and the people of Alaska healthy.
For more information about our work in community and environmental health, visit https://anthc.org/what-we-do/community-environment-and-health/.